Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Somaliland delivering hope and saving lives in drought affected areas

(RW) Hinda had moved to a place near Qolujed from the outskirts of Awdal region escaping the drought that ravaged the area.

 Hinda , her husband and their five children had been surviving on milk sales but could no longer sustain themselves when the drought struck.

“My family had to leave our village after we lost our livestock due to the drought. This area is providing humanitarian response to people like us who have been affected by the drought,” said Hinda.

According to the United Nations, the drought has since the beginning of 2016 impacted lives and livelihoods, compounding an already challenging humanitarian situation. In some areas, 60 to 80 per cent of herds have been lost, with devastating impact on families who depend on livestock for income, food and status.

Hinda, visited Qolujed Maternal and Child Health (MCH) facility in Awdal region for the second time in August, 2016. She came to the MCH facility with her sixth pregnancy.

“I had initially visited the MCH to check if indeed services were offered for free. I made the confirmation during that first visit that women were attended to at no charge at all. This is why I was comfortable to come and seek assistance with my pregnancy,” said Hinda.

While other UN agencies are providing food assistance to those affected by drought, UNFPA, in collaboration with the Somaliland Nursing and Midwifery Association and the Ministry of Health has been supporting maternal and child health facilities and referral hospitals in Awdal, Sool and Sanaag regions, the hardest hit by drought, according to Reproductive and Maternal Health Specialist for UNFPA in Somaliland Adam Haibeh Farah.

“UNFPA has provided essential drugs, supplies and equipment to these health facilities, such as delivery kits and emergency reproductive health kits and focused on capacity strengthening of the health professionals serving the communities. One of those MCH facilities is Qolujed Maternal and Child Health where Hinda has been seeking services,” said Farah.

Records at Qolujed MCH indicated that apart from receiving antenatal care, Hinda was provided with micronutrient supplements to improve her health and the healthy of her unborn baby. The records also indicated that more people than before have been seeking services since the drought occurred with an average of 120 patients per day.

During the drought period in the past six months, midwives and other health professionals reached 2838 women with antenatal care and 1887 women and babies with postnatal care, attended 1004 safe deliveries and referred 18 women to the nearest hospitals for management of obstetric complications, according to UNFPA in Somaliland.

UNFPA also has interventions in the eastern regions of Somaliland including Sahil, Togdheer, Sanag and Sool. In addition, UNFPA supports CeMONC services in Buroa and Erigavo Hospitals and a midwifery school in Buroa.

The humanitarian response plan of UNFPA aims to provide response to emergency reproductive health in response to the dire situation of maternal health.

Direct beneficiaries are estimated as 170,000 women focusing on displaced people, host communities, underserved rural and urban areas. Somali women have a 1 in 22 lifetime risk of dying due to pregnancy and childbirth-related causes.