By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – “On an average day we cater for the health needs of over 50 children from age one month to 14 years who are availed professional medical care free of charge”
Says Dina Jakovljevic the Admin/Logistic Officer of the Mohamed Aden Sheikh-MAS teaching hospital in Hargeisa where parents from all over the country bring their ailing children for free specialized medical attention given by a cadre of expatriate and local staff.
Miss Jakovljevic who is from Serbia and will celebrate her 27th Birthday in Hargeisa this month, accompanied by Ms Serena Zappa a logistician from Italy gave local media a tour of the Sprawling MAS facility in Hargeisa said that the only condition for accessing the hospital’s free pediatric medical services is prior registration.
“From the night before the young patients and their parents who come from various parts of the country but mostly Hargeisa begin to queue in front of the gate for registration” said the Serbian Logistician
The Hospital staff upon arrival start work at 7am with examination starting with those registered made to enter within the confines of the hospital and, after an initial visit; a priority is assigned to them depending on the severity of the disease.
“The most serious are hospitalized, the less severe are visited and instrumental and laboratory investigations are performed if necessary’ adds the Serbian
With sufficient facilities to cater for all children admitted, including drugs, food and beds MAS hospital also facilitates daily visits for children who are outpatients but need supervised drug use thence “proper entertainment area with TVs and other entertainment gadgets put in place for the parents and children who are on supervised medicine take”
“At the end of the visit not only are the parents and ailing children fed in the hospital canteen but free drugs for treatment are delivered to parents and if necessary a follow-up visit is planned”
MAS Children Teaching Hospital is a unique medical institution in Somaliland being a provider of all related treatment free of charge be it Diagnosis , drugs , X-ray and laboratory services etc as opposed to other medical institutions in the country where peeping at a Doctor costs some dollars.
“Though MAS hospital has a well stocked pharmacy and well equipped Laboratory patients in need of out of stock drugs or lab services beyond our capacity, the Hospital funds availability in other facilities in Hargeisa and pays for them informs Medical Coordinator Niall Conroy
stressing on the q100% assurance of free services for any one requesting them Conroy who is from Ireland said that even X-ray which is not yet available at the MAS hospital is sourced outside at no costs to the patient.
MAS Children Teaching Hospital which is the first facility of its kind in the country has its operations performed by over 50 members of staff both local and expatriate ranging from Security guards, Cleaners and administrators plus a cadre of specialists in Pediatric care
The international staffs at MAS currently at work in Hargeisa are
• Head of Mission: Predja Ognjen (Swiss)
• Admin/Logistic Officer: Dina Jakovljevic (Serbian)
• Logistician: Serena Zappa (Italian)
• Medical Coordinator: Niall Conroy (Irish)
• Nurse/volunteer: Cristina Delcampo (Italian)
• Nurse/volunteer: Federica Palacio Restrepo (Italian) and
• Nurse/volunteer: Andrea Capelli (Italian)
Apart from the administration staff all other international personnel are experts in their various fields of pediatric medicine which they amply share with local staff during regular in-service training sessions undertaken at the MAS conference room.
“The educational program for Local Staff consists of lectures and on-the-job training. The training program has been promoted and is operated directly by teaching personnel of the University of Turin, in collaboration with the University of Hargeisa. Each year we expect to train: 4 to 6 local doctors, one pharmacist, 2 to 4 laboratory technicians, one biomedical technician, one administrator and 10 to 14 nurses” said Dina Jakovljevic
According to The logistician from Serbia, the cadre of MAS local staff which is provided by the Somaliland ministry of health is of the highest quality performance wise due to not only the pre-MAS service knowledge but continuous in-house skills training and development.
The head of the local medical team Dr Fadumo Ahmed Liban whose title is medical coordinator told Somalilandsun that since the hospital’s inception a year and a half ago over 15,000 children have received free and quality treatment.
“While we treat children aged between one month to fourteen years any ailments that MAS is unable to handle is referred to the Hargeisa group hospital which is a government institution next to MAS” said Dr Liban
The youthful female Doctor who praised the international staff for their dedication to service provision urged citizens of Somaliland to utilize the professional medical attention provided free of charge at the Hospital which has the capacity to cater to cater for more than the current 50 or so patients attended to on a daily basis.
The MAS hospital whose free services are provided by various charities worldwide is also calling upon citizens both in the country and the Diaspora to chip-in with either financial or material contributions.
Ms Dina Jakovljevic who says that the current donations are mainly from foreign based charities predominantly Italian, thanked the government for provision of free water which is a commodity in much use.
While revealing that MAS hospital has two generators used for emergencies and a few Solar panels without batteries thence usable during daylights the Serbian lady said that the hospital consumes a large amount of electricity with the current bill running to $1,500 monthly.
Said she, “The power bill is consuming a lot of our meager funds and any support from individuals or companies will be highly appreciated” Said Ms Jakovljevic
On the issue of electricity consumption the Serbian
The hospital is managed by The MAS- CTH non-profit organization which was founded on April 16, 2012 at the behest of the Association Somalia, a non-profit organization founded by doctor Mohamed Aden Sheikh in 2002.
The hospital whose name MAS is the acronym of the name of its founder Mohamed Aden Sheikh was established in January 2013 through concerted efforts by the MAS- CTH non-profit organization and government of government of Somaliland.
The idea was born thanks to Dr. Mohamed Aden Sheikh who was the minister of health in Somalia in the 70’s and an Italian trained medical Doctor who was jailed for six years for being a vehement opponent of Dictator Siad Barre, subsequently recognized as prisoner of the year by amnesty international before his escape to Italy where he became city councillor in Turin from 1998 to 2003.
Mohamed, man of a South clan, wanted to built a free Children and Teaching Hospital in Hargeisa, capital of Somaliland the country without war for more than twenty years owing to his desire to help reduce the child mortality rate in the Horn of Africa then highest in the world where one of five children die due to diseases such as dysentery, malnutrition and cardiovascular
Another major aspect of the desire by late Mohamed Aden Sheikh was to establish a never ending stream of qualified local pediatrician’s thence the MAS hospital teaching program that has so far benefited a large cadre of local nurses, Doctors, lab and X-ray technicians
On 29 January 2012, the President of Somaliland Ahmed Mahmud Silanyo accompanied by government officials laid the foundation stone to start construction of MAS hospital at tits current location fully owned by the Italian MAS- CTH non-profit organization with attendant full cooperation full cooperation of the State owned Hargeisa Group Hospital adjacent to MAS.
Apart from the MOU a Convention exists between the University of Turin and the Faculty of Medicine of Hargeisa University pertaining to the manner and timing of the MAS Hospital training program for young medical graduates by Italian doctors and nurses.
The wishes of late Mohamed Aden Sheikh were fulfilled by his family in January 2013 when the Somaliland first lady Amina Mohamed Jirde ‘Amina Weris’ officiated at the opening ceremony of the MAS Children Teaching Hospital in Hargeisa
for more on the MAS Children and Teaching hospital