Warsheikh: The agony of expectant mothers in a town with no medical facility

Sawirrada keydka Ergo

(ERGO) – Just 60 km north of the capital Mogadishu, the ancient town of Warsheikh in Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region has recorded recent improvements in security, trade, and education, but its lack of a functioning hospital is leading to the deaths of numerous women in childbirth.

Warsheikh, a coastal town dating back to 1862, is home to thousands of people.

It has a partially operating health centre and several small clinics but nowhere equipped to perform Caesarean sections and other life-saving procedures.

Women with pregnancy-related complications are referred to Mogadishu for medical attention.

It costs $150-$200 to hire a vehicle to the city and many women died before they get help.

According to a local doctor, Aweys Abdikadir Hashi, Warsheikh town has lost seven mothers due to complications in childbirth in less than three months.

“Last week alone, two mothers bled to death. Due to long hours of prolonged labour and complications, they were taken to Mogadishu but unfortunately, they died on their way to the city,” Dr Aweystold Radio Ergo.

Dr Aweys runs a pharmacy in the town, offering blood testing and basic services.

He is often asked to help in emergency cases but is extremely limited in what he can provide.

“When pregnant mothers go into labour, they are brought here [the pharmacy] – but what we can do for them is just a few services including a blood test and weight checks,” he said.

Warsheikh General Hospital, which used to offer full maternity services including emergency C-sections, stopped operations in May after the Qatari Red Crescent ceased its support.

Hussein Ahmed Osoble, Warsheikh Medical Health Officer, told Radio Ergo that the hospital had been offering free services to thousands of people from Warsheikh and 53 villages around the town.

“The hospital was not only supporting residents in Warsheikh town but also thousands of others from the surrounding villages who were dependent on the services of the hospital,” Ahmed explained.

Local residents told Radio Ergo that two other women died of pregnancy-related causes in September.

Deka Mohamed died after giving birth to twins in September in Warsheikh.

Madina Ahmed Ibrahim, Deka’s maternal aunt, told Radio Ergo that her niece who was living in Bakarole village, 16 km west of Warsheikh, was taken to an unskilled traditional birth attendant for delivery. When things went wrong the family brought her to town to seek help.

“She bled excessively at the hands of a traditional birth attendant. She was very weak when she was brought here.  After long hours of labour she gave birth to twins but unfortunately she passed away,” Madina said. Deka left behind three children including the twins.

Deqo Mohamed Ali, an expectant mother living in Warsheikh town, is worried about getting the right help when her delivery time arrives.

“I am seven months pregnant. I have edema at this stage and I am concerned about the expected labour and the lack of delivery services in Warsheikh,” said Deqo, a mother of eight.

The majority of maternal deaths are due to bleeding, infection, and eclampsia or high blood pressure.

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