Somaliland has one of the highest mortality rates in the world. Women die needlessly giving birth to life. With an estimated 1 in 14 dying whilst giving birth.

The reasons that contribute to the high death rates vary. One very critical safety net to save the life of a pregnant woman is access to adequate medical services.

In 2014, SHiFAT began its journey in Erigavo hopital, which serves perhaps Somaliland's largest and most expansive region.

Apart from natural birth, all mothers with complicated pregnancies were referred to and forced to travel almost 400Km south west to Burao city. 

It was a choice of staying and bearing the consequences of certain death, miscarriage or both.

The other choice was to embark on an uncertain journey, negotiating dangerous and unpaved roads to Burao. Even then, they risked miscarriage, death or both. This meant only one thing for the people of Sanaag, pregnancy and childbirth were simply unsafe.

A new life line

SHiFAT supported by the United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA), a UN agency tasked with supporting maternal health amongst other issues, intervened and initiated a project to deliver Comprehensive emergency obstetric and newborn care (CeMONC).

CeMONC is a mother and newborn healthcare service package, designed to allow trained and qualified doctors and midwives to safely deliver babies in poverty stricken regions such as Somaliland, where health services remain very weak due to lack of skills and funding. This maternal healthcare package is immensely important in Somaliland which has one of the worst maternal and newborn death and disability rates in the world.

Through this project SHiFAT successfully:

  • Recruited an international Obstetrics and Gynecology physician
  • Recruited 2 qualified midwives trained trained CeMONC
  • Repaired the only ambulance to deliver patients to the Hospital
  • Continuously trains and supervises medical staff to ensure health and safety, hygiene and quality standards remain high, to continue achieving safe maternal and newborn services.
  • Continuously conduct outreach activities pastoralist communities to encourage them to use our services instead of traditional home birthing.
  • Most importantly, this service remains FREE.

The impact and the changes we witnessed have been simply remarkable. We see the success of this project in healthy mothers and babies day in day out. Thus far, thousands have benefited from this life saving project and many more will do so in the coming days and months.