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9 April 2023 - Story


By: Mohamed Assair, Deputy Area Representative, Save the Children, Puntland Programme

 Somalia has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, with 692 per 100,000 live births, one in 1,000 women aged 15-49 die due to pregnancy or birth-related complications, and 5 per cent of women would be expected to die from pregnancy-related causes during their reproductive lifetime.

The majority of these fatalities are preventable. Many pregnant mothers face serious complications during the labor. Limited access to health services and low awareness on the importance of seeking medical advise during the preganancy are the most significant factors contributing to maternal mortality in Somalia.

Save the Children has been implementing the Community Health and Nutrition through local Governance and Empowerment (CHANGE) programme funded by the United Kingdom(UK) Government and supports 46 health facilities, four referral health centres, five health centres, and 36 primary health Units in Puntland. The CHANGE programme  has reached a total of 990,057 persons who received outpatient consultation and treatment, including 39% (390,154) children under the age of five and 39% (385,966) women of reproductive age. In addition, the programme have significantly contributed to the vaccine coverage in target regions which means many children receieve vaccines that can prevent killer disease.  54,445 young children under the age of one received their third dose of the pentavalent vaccination, which protects against dangerous illnesses.

It is the work of programmes like CHANGE, Government and local communities, and International partners that the country has made progress over the years, with the maternal mortality rate dropping from 732 in 2015 to 692 in 2016[1].

Under this programme, the government has increased its oversight and engagement in the health sector. Community ownership and participation in the programme implementation have significantly improved access and demand to health services in the programme supported facilities.  

For instance, in Gardo General Hospital, the community owned resources mobilization campiagn have led to  the expansion of the maternity section of the hospital. This initiative have increased the capacity of the maternity section by 200 percent— meaning that more mothers can come to the hospital and access service and making Gardo General Hospital the largest hospital in the region. Community members have also reported fewer deaths related to maternal mortality. There is also an increase of the demad of health services in places like Gardo. Gardo General Hospital alone, close to 18,000 people come to access health services in the hospital yearly. 

Gardo General Hospital is one of the many examples in Puntland  that show how community role in service delivery  have reduced mortality rate in the country.  Ufeyn and Bargaal have invested in their own health and shifting the narrative of dependence on aid for the delivery of the basic services.

Over the years, Save the Children partnered with local communities to strengthen health care system and cultivate community ownership have  proved critical in saving lives of mothers and their children. Local healthcare systems, be it primary care, drugs, or hospital care,  have benefitted from community contributions. Communiites build health infrastructures,  provided medical equipment to facilities we support, and participate health related campaigns to teach mothers on the importance of the breastfeeding, visiting health facilities during pregnancy and many other initiatives.

To learn more about our health programme impact, kindly click on the links below which you can find stories from our programme:

-       The right survive, stories from Community Health and Nutrition through local Governance and Empowerment (CHANGE) programme.

-       My memorable visit to Hafun, Puntland, after 15 years

-       “Between me, mama Safia and Bisharo, it is not less than 10,000 babies,’’ -meet Safia, Farhia and Bisharo, Midwives in somalia.

-       A Day in the Life, Farhia midwife in Gardo General Hospital.