Every day at the maternity ward in the Banadir Hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia, Dr. Marian Omar Salad, age 28, helps over ten mothers to safely deliver their babies. While many of the births are routine and can be carried out with the help of trained midwives, when complications arise, Marian often must perform emergency surgeryto save the life of the mother, child, or both. On this particular morning, Marian already had three patients that were in need of emergency Caesarean Sections. “I like saving the babies for the mothers and the joy of the mother,” she says. Unfortunately, Marian is often presented with complicated birth situations, an aspect of her work that she hopes will begin to change.
One of the many frustrations that Marian faces is that women wait until circumstances become nearly fatal before seeking medical attention at the hospital. Mariam explains, “The mother will hold off going to the hospital until she has exhausted all of her options. Then, she comes to the hospital in very bad condition. Sometimes the mothers arrive dead.” She adds, “Every time it’s difficult, I try to educate the family, I try to give health education to the mother, and I tell them what they can do to prevent this situation so it won’t ever happen again.”
In addition to running the maternity ward and providing surgeries for mothers in need, Marian also promotes basic health care practices. “Some opinions are changing but a majority still need a lot of health education and guidance,” she says. Lack of education and awareness greatly contribute to the high maternal and child mortality rates in the communities. “Simple situations can cost the life of a mother and her baby, and that’s very frustrating. Situations like that are very heartbreaking,” Marian says. Whether the mothers are ready to deliver routinely, or if complicated or life threatening situations arise, Marian hopes that she can provide a place for all women and their children, “If they deliver at the hospital, or at a clinic, it is a little bit safer than if the mother delivers at home. This hospital provides a good environment that could save the life of both the mother and the baby.”