Nurse and midwife Niciima Ibrahim, age 27, oversees the work of the Central Burao Maternal and Child Health Centre in Burao, Somaliland. She began working in the Burao Hospital while she was still enrolled in nursing school. Her experiences at the hospital helped her to determine that she wanted to attend the Midwifery School. “I saw a lot of mothers who were suffering because of the lack of midwives. Some of the women were dying in front of me. Seeing that situation forced me to become a midwife,” she said.
After Niciima finished her education at the Midwifery School in Burao, the demand for skilled health workers was so high that she immediately began working at the health centre. “Before the Midwifery School,” Niciima explained, “there were no midwives in the whole region. Even in and around the city, you couldn’t find midwives. Skilled women have helped the community a lot, particularly the mothers and children,” she added.
One of the most important aspects of Niciima’s work at the health centre is assisting women who are HIV positive. An HIV test is administered to every pregnant woman that comes to the clinic. People living with HIV are isolated from their communities, are forced to move from one village to the next, and often end up living in poverty. “We needed to give special consideration to women who are HIV positive,” Niciima said, explaining that the midwives take extra precautions during deliveries. At the clinic, Niciima continued, “We tell the mother about the necessary steps that she can take to prevent transmission, and that if she delivers the baby in the center, she will be able to have a normal birth.” Without the health clinic, women and especially those living with HIV may have nowhere else to go to deliver their children safely.
In addition to providing essential health and nutrition services for expecting mothers and children, the education of patients is also a main aspect of the centre. “Mothers receive the proper information and gain awareness on how to safely deliver and care for their babies,” Niciima said. “If it wasn’t for this clinic, I don’t know what the situation would be for mothers. If it weren’t for this clinic, the deaths of women and children would be overwhelming,” Niciima added.
The lifesaving services provided at the Central Burao Maternal and Child Health Centre, are part of the Essential Package of Health Services, made possible by the Somali Joint Health and Nutrition Programme (JHNP).