Like many young women in Somalia, 18-year old Anfa did not know that she needed regular check-ups to ensure that she and her baby were healthy, and only attended one ante-natal care session before the day of her delivery. When the day arrived, Anfa was at home with her mother, and started to experience intense convulsions. Only later would she learn that the convulsions were the first symptoms of eclampsia, a dangerous condition caused by high blood pressure in pregnant women, which can lead to coma and possible death.
As her symptoms worsened, Anfa’s mother rushed her to the nearby hospital, but unfortunately, the facility was un-equipped to manage her condition. The nurses quickly referred her to Ibado hospital, where International Medical Corps provides Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (CEmONC) to vulnerable internally displaced communities and refugees suffering from Somalia’s four-year long drought.
Anfa had lost consciousness by the time she arrived at the Ibado Hosptial, and doctors immediately determined that she would require an emergency caesarian section in order to save her life. The surgery lasted 90 minutes, and by the time Anfa regained consciousness three hours later, she found herself lying next to her first newborn son, Mohamed. Tears of happiness streamed down Anfa’s face as she celebrated the birth of her child with her mother and brother by her side.
“I am so grateful to the International Medical Corps nurses and doctors for saving my life and that of my baby,” she said.
Anfa and Mohamed stayed at the recovery ward for nine days after the surgery, where doctors monitored their health and provided her and other new mothers with guidance on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, the importance of handwashing and regular checkups, and how to support their children’s healthy development.
Three weeks after her delivery, an International Medical Corps team visited Anfa and found both her and Mohamed in good health. During the visit, Anfa emphasized the lesson she learned the hard way–how important it is for all mothers to receive regular checkups during their pregnancy and deliver at a hospital.
“Delivering at home is very risky and I wouldn’t encourage any mother to try that,” says Anfa. “Even if she lives far from the hospital, she should just find a way to deliver at a hospital because the doctors are well trained to conduct skilled deliveries and they will have access to critical services in the case of emergencies like mine.”
In addition to Mohamed, International Medical Corps has supported the safe delivery of over 5,400 children in Somalia since January 2018. Sadly, Somalia continues to face one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, with 1 out of 12 women dying from pregnancy-related complications due to the county’s high fertility rates and a lack of adequate maternal health services. The current drought only exacerbates the medical situation.
Most women in the Anfa’s community in Abduwak still deliver at home, and spend the majority of the day fetching food and water to support their families, limiting their ability to seek out medical care.
As International Medical Corps remains on the ground in some of the most hard-to-reach areas of Somalia to improve access to much-needed emergency obstetric and neonatal healthcare, we thank the GlobalGiving community for their unwavering support. For more information about our work in Somalia please see https://internationalmedicalcorps.org/country/somalia/.
Anfa and her baby, Mohamed
Our doctors performing the surgery