Serving Mothers and Infants in Somaliland
Borama is the capital Awdal region of Somaliland, situated near the border with Ethiopia. It is home to Borama Regional Hospital that serves the entire region. Zeila hospital is the second hospital in the region but was destroyed by the Sagar Cyclone, which hit in the coastal areas in May 2018. Since then, Borama Regional Hospital is the sole hospital catering to the health and emregency needs for the entire region.
The UK aid-funded SHINE Supply programme is supporting the Stabilization Centre (SC), 5 ambulances and Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (CEmONC) services, medical supplies, as well as providing salary top-ups for certain staff members.
More than 900,000 children are in need of nutrition assistance across Somalia and Somaliland (World Vision, 2019). The SC receives several cases of acutely malnourished children each week. The most common cases include vomiting, fever and diarrhoea. The SC deals with acute malnutrition cases through micronutrient support, infant/young child feeding, deworming, promotion of appropriate diets, monitoring and surveillance, as well as immunizations.
Amina brought her 10-month-old son, Khalid, into the SC after he had suffered from diarrhoea and vomiting for two days. As a resident of Borama, Amina was well aware of the services that the SC offers and swiftly brought Khalid in to be treated. She pointed out that she was happy with the service, “Khalid was treated immediately, and the nurses have been looking after us both very well”. The mother and son had been in the hospital together for a total of 8 days when we met them. The doctor was happy with Khalid’s progress and, at the time, expected that he would be released within the following 2 days.
Newborn, Nimo, was rushed into the SC with breathing difficulties and a fever. Nimo’s mother, 16-year-old Nabiha, was referred to the SC by her local Health Centre (HC) in Adado village. Nimo is just 29 days old and has spent 10 out of these 29 days in the SC. Hodan, the Family Physician and Manager of the facility, foresees that he will have to stay for another 8 days. “Nimo was very premature. It is common amongst teenage mothers – they are at greater risk of premature births than women in their 20s. Underage marriage and pregnancy are common in Somaliland. We see these cases a lot”, she explains.
The maternity ward at Borama Regional Hospital is always bustling. The hospital receives many women that have been referred from HCs in remote areas. Many of these women have experienced complications during or before labour. Caesarians, ruptured uteruses and fistulas are common, as well as cysts caused through the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). Post-partum bleeding is the most significant cause of death seen at the ward. There is a severe lack of blood. When in desperate need, the ward receives donations from family members, but this is not always enough.
SHINE Supply will be implemented from July 2018 until March 2021 in the regions of Awdal and Togdheer in Somaliland. The Programme aims to improve the health and nutrition status of Somalis, with a particular focus on women and children.