Today is Universal Health Coverage Day, a day to advocate for universal health coverage to be a cornerstone of the sustainable development agenda and a priority for all nations. Healthcare is a necessity everywhere, but it’s especially important to advocate for healthcare in developing countries. Maternal healthcare can present a lot of difficulties, especially when only one in three women in rural communities in developing countries receives necessary care. According to the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Global Strategy for Women and Children’s Health from 2010, 350,000 women die every year during childbirth. The WHO also said that the planet needs another 3.5 million health workers to improve women and children’s health in the 49 lowest income countries.
The Edna Adan University Hospital specializes in training midwives in Somaliland*, using modern medical knowledge and techniques. Currently, most births in the country are aided by a traditional birthing attendant, a person who hasn’t gone through any sort of formal medical training. Births are often in unsanitary conditions, with no recourse if a complication arises. This takes a harsh toll on the mothers of Somaliland, with 1,044 mothers dying per 100,000 live births, which is one of the highest rates in the world.
Additionally, almost all of the following deaths are preventable:
- 289,000 women and 2.6 million newborns who died during childbirth in 2014.
- 3 million infants died within the first few months of their lives.
- A woman who is 100 times more likely to die during childbirth in sub-Saharan Africa than in an industrialized country.
This same case study by the WHO found that 500 midwives educated and deployed in Bangladesh could save 36,000 lives over the course of 30 years. 87 percent of the essential care for women and newborns can be performed by an educated midwife.
The midwives that the hospital trains are disbursed throughout the country after their education is complete. They serve a vital role in Somaliland society, helping to form a protective web across the country so that women in any part of Somaliland can have a trained medical professional on hand for a pregnancy. Midwives can assist in births in rural areas and help to funnel difficult pregnancies back to the hospital. The hospital hopes to train 1,000 midwives to cover the country. We have currently trained 400.
The other part of providing adequate maternal health care is access to proper supplies. The Edna Hospital has expanded its facilities, including a radiology department which was built this year. It also uses improvised technological devices, such as an oxygen mask that runs through a water bottle, so that it bubbles when oxygen is flowing. Continued support can help the hospital and the midwives it trains to reach more women and children in need, because everyone, and especially mothers, should have access to affordable healthcare.
* Somaliland is the former British Protectorate which borders between Djibouti and Ethiopia.