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Hundreds of Women Benefit from Free Maternal Care Program in Somaliland

Mar 8, 2022

A mother grieves for her three children lost during previous deliveries as she anxiously awaits the birth of her fourth baby, due in a matter of months. Another mother holds her sick child while riding a bus to the nearest hospital 12 hours away and mourns as the child dies in her arms. A third mother worries about the health of her unborn twins after she suffers from a traumatic fall. These are a few examples of women in Sanaag—a remote, desert region located in eastern Somaliland—who have endured painful and often traumatizing experiences due to limited access to healthcare. 

In a region that suffers from high maternal and child mortality rates, the Sanaag Specialty Hospital (SSH) seeks to provide accessible healthcare to these mothers who so desperately need it, and to dramatically impact the quality of healthcare for all of Somaliland. Officially opened in May 2021, SSH provides first-class primary and secondary medical care services in a region with over 600,000 people. Most significantly, SSH has employed a 60% female workforce—many of them local midwives—and trained them to treat and educate over 300 mothers through a free Antenatal Care and Maternity Care Program (ANC). 

The free program employs local midwives to educate Somaliland mothers on the important and necessary steps that should be taken to ensure safe and healthy deliveries. Many of the staff working at SSH were also former students at Somaliland healthcare hero Edna Adan Ismail’s training hospital. In addition to providing health and pregnancy awareness for Somaliland mothers through the ANC Program, SSH midwives: 

  • Deliver health talks on prevention of anemia in pregnancy,  

  • Stress the importance of antenatal care,  

  • Teach mothers how to identify high-risk pregnancies, 

  • Encourage mothers to deliver babies at SSH to get the proper care they need, and 

  • Establish follow-up practices for proper maternal and child health management.  

“Erigavo was growing quickly and needed a hospital that is capable of addressing health issues within the community,” said Dr. Hawa, a Family Medicine doctor specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, and child and infant care. “I love to teach, provide skills training, and give the highest quality health care to my people. I will always help, in any capacity that a doctor can help, with improving the Sanaag Specialty Hospital.” 

Since its official launch in October 2021, the ANC Program has aided in 30 successful hospital deliveries, a large increase in comparison to a staggering 6% of successful hospital deliveries from only one year prior.  

“I dream many things for the women of Somaliland, but I prioritize education,” said Edna Ismail. “Education means peace, stability, respect for human life, dignity, and most importantly, equal opportunity for everyone, regardless of whether they are men or women. I want women doctors, women engineers, and women lawyers in Somaliland. Women can do it.”  

Today, a mother cries tears of joy for her first successful childbirth. Another mother rejoices as surgeons save her baby through a C-section procedure, something previously impossible in Sanaag. A third mother celebrates her first baby with 17 of her family relatives, further emphasizing the hospital’s far-reaching impact on families throughout the region.  

The work at the Sanaag Specialty Hospital is truly lifesaving and ongoing, and none of it is possible without your help. Discover how you can contribute to this transformative work today.  

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