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Five Questions With…Ms Ayan Mahamoud

15 February 2019

1.What do you think are the biggest challenges Somaliland faces in terms of health?

Somaliland is facing many challenges. At the most basic level we lack a standard operating health care system and the policies to manage that and we are hugely under-resourced in terms of in human resources for health particularly female health professionals.

We have an increasing birth-rate without enough hospitals to cater for this and the hospitals that are functional struggle to maintain sufficient sanitation, including clean water. As a result we have a high rate of mother-child mortality because of both the lack health professionals and facilities.

The population also suffers from a high burden of mental health issues due to a number of reasons not least because of the impact of the civil war, lack of mental health professionals, poverty and substance abuse (Khat).  All these have a devastating impact on our community and government.

We know and have seen that if can educate women in health, we can have a better future in Somaliland.


2.What are the biggest transformations you have seen in the last ten years?

The biggest transformation in Somaliland has been the growth in the infrastructure of the country. Somaliland is becoming a stronger nation as we witness greater investment and youth mobilisation and volunteering.  We have welcomed many volunteers from Britain, America, Africa, China and Australia and we are.

This is a great experience to be a part of as we see Somaliland becoming a nation which has improved the infrastructure, the education policies and safe and secure nation with democratic institutions, which has given the people of Somaliland a better country to live in.

Somaliland has been safe, stable and peaceful for the last ten years and it is hugely important for the improvement of our country that this continues.

3. You hosted the Somaliland European Diaspora conference at the end of last year. What were your highlights?

The main agenda for the Somaliland European Diaspora was to be able to communicate and share ideas with fellow Somalilanders from across Europe. This was a great conference which created a stronger dialogue amongst Somalilanders particularly in Europe. It was very useful to provide the opportunity for different professions to meet and discuss what can be implemented for the future for Somaliland.

It was also a pleasure to meet a team from Britain which has worked in partnership to improve the health sector.  The group from Britain has had a great impact on voluntary work in the health sector of Somaliland. They all went to Somaliland and created a good form of health promotion. This also came from their own investment especially in the area of sanitation, clean water project and facilitating regional clinics in Somaliland. It is impressive to see that Somalilanders from Britain are taking their own initiatives to improve their own native country by implementing better health for the younger generation. This type of voluntary work creates a significant impact in Somaliland.


4. What impact do organisations like THET have on healthcare in Somaliland?

The impact of THET has been a very positive one, it is an important organisation for Somaliland. The co-operation between THET and Somaliland since 2002 has given Somaliland a better foundation in health-related topics. The impact of THET has been dramatic and they have produced research and facts and figures for Somaliland which has in turn had a positive influence for the Ministry of Health and with Amoud University, Hargeysa University and others.

Cooperation is important and organisations like THET, help us to maintain a strong dialogue when Somaliland is in need of greater health expertise especially doctors, nurses, midwives and other health professionals. The training THET provides creates a better platform for Somaliland to improve health in all aspects. Therefore, THET’s work in Somaliland is crucial.

5. What changes would you like to see in the future of healthcare in Somaliland?

Somaliland has huge issues with maternal and children mortality rates and we need to improve this.  The majority of the population live in rural areas and this often leaves them isolated with no way to access healthcare. So, by training Community Health Workers we can work to resolve health care issues in those rural areas. Ultimately, Somaliland needs more health workers. I think the most important task for us now is to educate more heath workers; doctors, nurses, and public health workers and to create more specialists scholarships for young doctors.

Of course it is not just human resources we are lacking but we are also in need of better equipped hospitals. We must build our healthcare system so that we can become part of the global conversation on healthcare too.


This post was written by:

Ms Ayan Mahamoud - Resident Representative of Republic of Somaliland to the UK & Commonwealth


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