Mogadishu hospitals push on despite shortages, obstacles

By Majid Ahmed in Mogadishu

November 09, 2012

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In the face of a collapsed healthcare system following decades of conflict, a small number of health facilities in Mogadishu, such as Banadir, Madina and Keysaney Hospitals, continue to function and offer free health services to local residents.

  • A team of doctors work on patients in the Egyptian-run Zamzam Hospital in Mogadishu. The hospital was established last year and offers free treatment and life-saving health services to more than 200 people every day. [Majid Ahmed/Sabahi]

    A team of doctors work on patients in the Egyptian-run Zamzam Hospital in Mogadishu. The hospital was established last year and offers free treatment and life-saving health services to more than 200 people every day. [Majid Ahmed/Sabahi]

  • Doctors operate on a wounded child at Zamzam Hospital. [Majid Ahmed/Sabahi]

    Doctors operate on a wounded child at Zamzam Hospital. [Majid Ahmed/Sabahi]

  • Madina Hospital, one of the main hospitals in Mogadishu, receives the highest number of wounded patients in the city. [Stringer/AFP]

    Madina Hospital, one of the main hospitals in Mogadishu, receives the highest number of wounded patients in the city. [Stringer/AFP]

Lul Mohamud, head of the children's and maternity ward at Banadir Hospital, one of the largest hospitals in Mogadishu, said the hospital offers free health services for thousands of mothers and children who suffer from malnutrition.

"Every day, we receive hundreds of sick people, most of whom are children who suffer from various illnesses, such as diarrhoea, measles and malnutrition, and we offer them free health services," she told Sabahi.

"Based on data from the World Health Organisation, the rates of malnutrition amongst children and maternal deaths in Somalia are very high," Mohamud said. "One out of every 10 women faces death during pregnancy or delivery and one in every five children under the age of 5 suffers from severe malnutrition."

In Mogadishu and its outskirts, hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) live in overcrowded camps, creating favourable conditions for the spread of contagious diseases.

"Measles and acute watery diarrhoea are prevalent in overcrowded IDP camps in Mogadishu due to a shortage of clean drinking water or bad sanitation," Mohamud said.

Mohamud Abdi, a general practitioner at Banadir Hospital, said many curable diseases, such as malaria, are prevalent in the country. "Somalis are dying due to illnesses that are easily treated, such as diarrhoea, malaria and measles, because of poor diagnoses that come from a lack of equipment to conduct testing or incompetent doctors working in the healthcare profession," Abdi told Sabahi.

Shortages in supplies and qualified health professionals

Ahmed Hassan, director of the Egyptian-run Zamzam Hospital, said health facilities in Mogadishu suffer from a shortage of medicines, basic supplies and equipment.

"There is a dearth of health facilities in Mogadishu," Hassan said. "The number of public and private hospitals operating in the city, where more than 2.5 million people live, does not exceed 13 hospitals, most of whom suffer from a shortage of medicines necessary to treat sick and wounded patients that the hospitals receive in large numbers."

Hassan said the Zamzam Egyptian Hospital in the Medina district of Mogadishu offers free treatment and life-saving health services to more than 200 people every day.

He said the number of qualified health professionals in the country is quite small because many doctors left the country after the collapse of the central government in 1991.

"For the time being, there are approximately 250 qualified doctors in Somalia, around 860 nurses and only 116 midwives," he said.

"In a country that suffers from a weak health infrastructure, training health workers is inevitable," he said. "Many health workers in the country need professional training to improve their skills so they can save lives."

The Arab Doctors Union sent a medical team to Somalia last year to work in hospitals and medical centres in the country and to train Somali doctors, Hassan said. "Training and developing the skills of those working in the healthcare profession are among the basic requirements needed in Somalia," he said.

Duniya Ali Mohamud, who heads medical services at Madina Hospital in Mogadishu, which receives critically wounded patients and is supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said the number of patients the hospital receives sometimes exceeds its capacity.

"Over the past couple years, when acts of violence were on the rise, Madina Hospital would receive large numbers of patients on a daily basis," she said. "Although violence has gone down in Mogadishu, Madina Hospital still receives dozens of wounded people as a result of explosions and bullets, traffic accidents or other conditions."

She said the ICRC donates medical and surgical equipment and supplies to the hospital, trains medical staff and technicians, and pays their salaries.

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  • zundus
    November 12, 2012 @ 10:39:27PM

    What can the new equipment brought or a famous development oriented person in the society or someone who works for the government do because they will be oppressed or killed like the journalists? All top posts are held by Al-Shabaab.

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