The latest warning by the United Nations that famine-hit areas of southern Somalia will likely spread in coming days should serve as a wake-up call to international organisations and individuals alike to step up their efforts. That the situation is expected to worsen despite massive international aid pledges means Somalia has to become top priority for everyone involved.

Currently, the country is suffering from shortages of medical supplies and doctors, particularly in the southern regions, where outbreaks of diarrhoea and measles are complicating an already dire situation. Of course the presence of Al Qaida-affiliated Al Shabab members hinders security — making things even more complicated. There's an urgent need for international efforts to synchronise and ensure that enough medical aid and doctors are able to reach the most affected areas, even if it means negotiating with the Al Shabab. It is hoped that the three-day conference currently taking place in Mogadishu and bringing together Somali leaders will result in new plans for a new government and better access for international help.