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Saving the Lives of Mothers and Babies in Somalia’s Beletweyne Hospital

By Mohamed Abdirahman, International Medical Corps Program Officer

November 26, 2013 - Facing complications during labor, 23-year-old Hamdi, assisted by a concerned neighbor, traveled 50 miles by foot and donkey cart to Beletweyne Hospital.  By the time she reached the hospital’s maternity ward, more than 85 hours had passed since her initial labor pains had begun; it was late in the evening, and she was in urgent need of lifesaving obstetric care.  International Medical Corps staff delivered Hamdi’s baby boy through caesarian section, saving the life of both mother and child. The staff also provided comprehensive post-delivery care. Both Hamdi and her son are doing well today.

With funding from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, International Medical Corps is operating the inpatient department of Beletweyne Hospital in Hiraan Region, south-central Somalia, providing urgently needed medical services—including maternity, pediatric, and emergency surgical care—to women, men, and children.  Beletweyne Hospital is the only functional referral hospital in Hiraan, and patients like Hamdi travel from as far as Bakool and Galgaduud regions, as well as southern Ethiopia, to access lifesaving services. 

In the maternity ward, International Medical Corps provides 24/7 maternal and newborn care services that include delivery by a skilled attendant (midwives) and basic, as well as comprehensive, emergency obstetric and newborn care. During the first three months of program implementation (April through June, 2013), International Medical Corps successfully managed 415 deliveries, including more than 65 complicated cases.  Over the next several months, while continuing to provide healthcare services through the inpatient department, International Medical Corps will work to develop and promote standard policy and protocol for health referrals within the Beletweyne area, including for emergency obstetric services for women and girls. 

International Medical Corps has been operating in Somalia since 1991, when we became the first American non-governmental organization to arrive in the war-torn Somali capital of Mogadishu after the overthrow of President Siad Barre. Throughout the past two decades, we have implemented Primary Health Care, Nutrition, Emergency Feeding, Water/Sanitation/Hygiene (WASH) and Post-Harvest Storage programs in Somalia.


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