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Somaliland: The aspiration of a woman PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 15 August 2011

Having a baby is one of the most precious moments in life for most women but it can also be frightening or mired with anxious feeling.  Of course,
 the risks are considerably varied depending on where you live in the world. For many women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa the risk of dying during childbirth or giving birth prematurely is very high. According to UNICEF a woman in sub-Saharan Africa has a 1 in 16 chance of dying in pregnancy or childbirth, compared to a 1 in 4,000 risk in a developing country.
As a result of these horrifying statistics, in 2000 the United Nations launched its millennium development goal 5 agenda to help achieve safe motherhood in the developing countries.  The World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF have worked in conjunction to put strategies and resources into the developing countries to reach that target. However, the task is enormous and there are many issues to be addressed and tackled when it comes to women health. The developing world has to tackle and consider cultural differences and an extreme poverty in some areas. This makes the task more challenging and a lack of funding and coordination are also a hindering the effort. However, the education and training of women and girls can go long way to improve maternal health in many developing countries.

Civil war has driven many skilled health workers such as nurses and midwives out of the country. To help address this shortage and increase knowledge many communities believe that the bottom up approach is the best and easiest way to improve their lives and ensure safe motherhood.  Edna Maternity Hospital in Hargeisa, Somaliland is an aspiring example of this. With the help of the Somali Diaspora, WHO and UNICEF, Edna Ismail a former foreign Minister of Somaliland and WHO worker founded the Edna Maternity and nurse school. "I am still a nurse and a midwife. I was doing my midwifery at three o'clock this morning. There was an emergency," she told the BBC's Network Africa programme.
The Edna Maternity Hospital provide a three year general nursing (3 classes), midwifery, laboratory techniques, first aid courses for school teachers, and computer literacy courses. These are available for girls in a country which have one of the highest Maternal and Child Mortality rates in the world.
Traditional birth attendants are the only recourse for most of the pregnant women in Somaliland but unfortunately many of them do not have the money, resources or time to go to health centres such as Edna Hospital. Therefore, the training the Hospital is providing to women and girls to become midwives and nurses is having a long lasting impact throughout Somaliland. Many of the trainees come from small towns and villages.
There are many new innovative ideas being developed in Sub Saharan Africa to improve maternal health. An example in western Africa is scheme initiated by the International Planned Parenthood Federation which uses the local truck driver union to provide emergency transport for pregnant women who live in the rural areas which are far from health centres. This helps to provide an opportunity for earlier medical intervention that can potentially save the life of both the mother and child.
“Do you” initiative in many parts of Africa is helping a lot of women to have access to emergency medical care which can significantly reduce maternal mortality. The MDG5 for safe motherhood is having positive impact through Africa but it is still way of mark according the United Nations development program report in 2007. The lack of coordination between governments, NGO’s and United Nations agencies is part of the problem.  Some blame the rich western countries for their lack of commitment to fund this agenda which they have all signed up to, the coordination between all stakeholders and honouring commitment given will help to achieve the MDG5 agenda.
All in all there is huge disparity within the developing world in terms of the education and status of women and particularly family planning and reproductive health care services. That is why each situation needs pragmatic and innovative ideas from bottom up with commitment to funding and technical experts from the rich world to achieve this momentous goal.  
Abdirahman Bidhaan Dahir
Coursework for the UWE Bristol

 

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