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Somaliland: Patients come from Somalia to be operated in obstetric fistula camp

"We’ve seen 3 obstetric fistula patients coming all the way from south of Mogadishu in Somalia,” says Dr Essam from WAHA International. “It took them two days to come here.  We also treated a Somali woman who has suffered from vesicovaginal fistula for the past 20 years. She has been through a very difficult time as she lost her five children and her husband in the war there. She now lives with some relatives in Somaliland.

Over 30 patients have been treated since WAHA International, in partnership with the UAE Red Crescent, started the fistula camp in Edna Adan hospital in Somaliland just ten days ago. About half of the patients are women suffering from vesicovaginal fistula while the other half are women with old perineal tears which need reparation too.

Ms. Edna, the hospital director, launched an awareness campaign in Somaliland and Somalia to inform the public of the fistula camp. Announcements were broadcast on radios and messages were sent by SMS on mobile phones.

For women coming from Somalia the main problem is the transport issue”, explains Dr. Essam. “We’re trying to see if WAHA can help with this in the future by flying patients from Mogadishu to Somaliland”.

WAHA is also training hospital staff on fistula repair. While WAHA specialists operate, hospital team members assist in the surgery.

"On Saturday Dr. Mulu (Waha fistula specialist) started surgery on a woman who had a recurrent vesicovaginal fistula. It was a complicated case and the operation lasted 3 hours”, recounts Dr. Essam. “While Dr. Mulu operated, Dr Ambaye from WAHA gave instructions to the rest of the hospital team explaining the procedure.”

WAHA International is currently in discussions to extend its support to the Edna Adan hospital by providing a gynaecologist–obstetrician with fistula repair skills who could work full time in the maternity. Edna Adan Hospital is one of three main referral hospitals of Hargeisa in Somaliland. Opened in 2002, it offers maternity and family planning services, and has developed a training programme for nurses and midwives in an effort to help reduce maternal mortality in the country. Our team members are also seeing in which ways we can cooperate with the  University of Hargeisa and the Fistula Hospital in Borama  close to the Ethiopian border.