Providing free health care in Mogadishu

Emergencies article written on the 05 Nov 2011

Photo: SAACID

Twenty-one-year-old Maryan works as a nurse for SAACID, one of Oxfam’s Somali partners, at an emergency therapeutic centre in Mogadishu. The centre provides free health care to thousands of malnourished children – something she hopes the state will soon provide. Working in Mogadishu brings many challenges:

“I was born in Mogadishu and have been working in the health sector for the past three years. I’ve always wanted to be a nurse so I could provide free health care to vulnerable mothers in Somalia who aren’t able to visit private clinics. The health system was destroyed after the collapse of the Somali government in 1991, and many public hospitals are no longer operating.

“We face many challenges working in this centre. Early in the morning the centre is really crowded with waiting mothers and you can hear children crying. Many people have been displaced since the drought hit southern Somalia, and every day we see more and more malnourished children arriving. It’s often overwhelming at the end of each day because there are so many new cases, but I always try to stay happy. The mothers always thank us when their children recover from malnutrition.

“Working in Somalia, especially in Mogadishu, is very hard. Sometimes it’s difficult to reach work because of the roadblocks and clashes between rebel groups. I remember when I was a student and there were many days when I couldn’t go to university because of the fighting. It’s not easy to work in a city which has been in chaos for twenty years. Every day is different. Sometimes, I wake up and everything is calm but then the day may end in violence.

“I always worry about my country, and wonder if we’ll ever get peace and stability again. There’s so much that needs be done to here. The country is now facing an emergency situation and needs help from the international community to save lives.

“I really hope that things will improve and that next year the government brings in a new law which will enable Somali mothers to get free health care from the state. I want health services to be free in this country. ”

Find out more

Read more about Oxfam’s response to the East Africa Food Crisis