Fatuma Mohamed had her first experience of a hospital delivery this month when she gave birth to her baby in Lasanod general hospital, in Somaliland’s Sool region, free of charge.
Her other five children were all born at home. With this delivery, she was in great pain and the traditional midwife attending to her was unable to help. Thankfully her family had heard from neighbours about the free services at the hospital.
They got her there just in time for a successful C-section delivery. For three days, Fatuma and her sister accompanying her were also provided with beds and meals.
“I safely delivered my baby, who is very healthy!” said a delighted Fatuma.
Fatuma’s family, living in Daami village in Lasanod, could not have afforded to pay for the treatment. They were displaced from Xal-xaliye, 50 km north of Lasanod, when their herd of 220 goats was wiped out by drought. Since then her husband scrapes together a living doing odd jobs that earn up to $4 a day to buy food for the family and pay their $30 monthly room rent.
Sool regional health coordinator, Dr Mohamud Haji Khalif, told Radio Ergo that 176 women have delivered babies in the hospital since free maternity services began two in January, supported by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
Those being assisted are amongst the most vulnerable women in this remote region. Dr Mohamud said he hopes more will get to hear about it and avoid the damage and even death that can occur at the hands of untrained midwives.
“The mother receives all maternity services for free, including medication and bedding, and surgery if she needs it. Even if the mother delivers a preterm baby the hospital can provide an incubator,” he said.
Medical services for children are also being provided free of charge at the hospital.
Amina Mohamed felt she had been hovering between life and death after excessive bleeding during a day and a night of obstructed labour at her home in Anjiid IDP camp. She was brought to Lasanod general hospital at 3 o’clock in the morning.
“Really, I felt so happy because I couldn’t afford to go to hospital and pay,” Amina told Radio Ergo. “I felt even happier after I delivered nicely.”
She was happy with the accommodation and services as well.
“Every minute they were ready for me – free treatment, bedding, and food. I was brought porridge in the morning, meat and rice for lunch, and at night suqaar (meat cubes) and bread were brought to me and the girl who was with me,” Amina said.
Amina’s family has lived in Anjiid camp 20 km north of Lasanod for three years, after losing their 100 goats to the drought. The family of four people relies on food aid from agencies.