Women Who Inspire: Edna Adan’s Maternity Hospital is Saving Somaliland’s Women and Their Babies

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Edna Aden Maternity Hospital in Hargeisa SomalilandMany of Somaliland’s women die each year due to complications with childbirth. Easily treatable maladies such as anemia, preeclampsia and prolonged labor often cause serious complications or death among pregnant woman. In recent years, the country has seen a drop in the number of midwives, mainly impart due to an aging generation of women who can no longer provide the necessary medical attention needed during childbirth.

Edna Adan knew of the critical concerns surrounding maternity healthcare in her country. As a women who was given the opportunity to attend school and later earned a coveted scholarship to study in Britain where she pursued midwifery, nursing and hospital management, Adan wanted to help other women in Somaliland have the same opportunities by providing them and their soon-to-be-born children with healthcare.

Upon her return from Britain, Adan became the first qualified nurse-midwife and the first woman in her country to drive. She married Somaliland’s prime minister, Ibrahim Egal, but eventually the two got divorced and Adan moved on to join the World Health Organization where she fought against the traditional practice of female genital mutilation.

Having gained the respect of her nation and human rights organizations around the world, Adan retired from the WHO and set out to accomplish her childhood dream to one day open a hospital. She sold all of her possessions and purchased a piece of land that was used as a trash dump in the capital of Hargeisa after negotiating with her ex-husband who was president at the time.

In 1997, Adan began building the hospital and five years later the 50-bed private facility opened its doors. Her goal is to train 1,000 midwives who will eventually return to their communities and provide pregnant women with the treatment they need. Thus far, Adan has trained 150 female high school graduates who are currently making a difference in the lives of women all across Somaliland.

To learn more about the women involved in the program, check out “Midwifery in Somaliland” on YouTube.

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