(ERGO) – Shamso Farah Mohamed, a mother of seven and pregnant, is anxious about her next childbirth as there is no clinic in her home district of Mataban in southern Somalia’s Hiran region.
She told Radio Ergo that she could not afford to travel for healthcare as the family is barely surviving on the meagre income she generates from her small shop. Besides that, she has seen too many local women with labour complications suffering even more on their way to hospitals in the nearest towns like Beletweyn and Guriel.
“There is no reliable health service here. The pharmacies can only give pills to help stop the bleeding as you are rushed out of town, they can’t do anything more for you. We are really worried. Mataban is big and has so many surrounding villages, we should have at least one hospital,” Shamso stated.
The only maternal and child health clinic in the district closed two months ago due to lack of funding.
Amino Dahir, head of the district health department, said this has led to untold suffering for expectant mothers in the area. One local woman with a childbirth emergency only just made it recently after a gruelling journey to hospital.
“When the car reached the hospital in Guriel, the doctor told them they were lucky as the mother and child’s lives would have been in grave danger had they been just minutes late. The mother was immediately given a blood transfusion and was operated on to deliver her baby through caesarian section,” Amino told Radio Ergo.
Many women cannot afford even the cost of transport, which is $20 one way. Emergency surgery would cost up to $300 in private hospitals.
Qasim Nur Hassan, a pastoralist father of nine, lives in Gelkudhal, where the family keeps a herd of animals. The nearest health facility is 63 km away from their home. He told Radio Ergo that some of his children are sick, but there is little he can do.
“Right now three of my children are bed-ridden with a severe flu and high fever, but the only thing I could give them is paracetamol which I bought from the pharmacy. That is all I could afford, having lost many animals recently,” he said.
The district health department estimates that more than 190 villages across Mataban have no access to a health facility. There used to be diaspora-supported health centres in Bergadid, Galijir and Qodqod but they have all closed due to lack of doctors and medicines.
For Amino Dahir, the situation is unacceptable. “You might see a pregnant mother bleeding profusely with no one to care for her, with no money to travel to a hospital, and even if others help her with the transport, you wonder if she will make it to the hospital or if she will lose the child on her way. We see all that and worse,” she said.