Fighting Maternal and Infant Mortality in Somaliland

By the Edna Adan Hospital Foundation

Last week, the 69th Session of the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) convened in New York City to examine 20 years of actions taken by governments to improve people's lives and address population issues. The Head of State reaffirmed "their commitments to place people at the center of development." Africa has 12 percent of the global population and accounts for half of all maternal and infant deaths. Somaliland, located in the Horn of Africa with a population of 3.5 million, has one of the highest maternal and child mortality rates in the world.

Almost all maternal and newborn deaths are preventable. Millions of lives can be saved if women have access to skilled and trained midwives during pregnancy and childbirth.

A report released by UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank states "substantial global progress has been made in reducing child deaths, approximately 17,000 children under age five continue to die every day in 2013." Progress is slow, and the Millennium Development Goal 4 target risks being missed at the global level.

Here are some facts:

  • Under 5-year-old mortality rates have dropped by 49 percent, however, despite the progress, many countries still have very high rates -- particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, home to all 12 countries with an under five mortality rate of 100 deaths or more per 1,000 live births.
  • According to the World Health Organization, approximately 800 women still die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth every day and 99 percent of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries.
  • In 2012, UNICEF reported Somaliland as one of the worst maternal mortality rate in the world: 1,000 - 1,400 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births with an infant mortality rate is 73 per 1,000 births while the under-five mortality is approximately 117/1,000.

There is good news.

Though the future is brighter, there is still a lot to be done to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. We all need to fight for change. In conjunction with the UNGA meetings, a major campaign effectively entitled, Zero Mothers Die was launched to reduce maternal and child mortality and increase healthcare access through mobile technology.

Every woman's pregnancy must be considered special. We must invest in e-health and women for greater impact. No baby should die because the right information was not available. -- Christine Kaseba, First Lady of Zambia

Training midwives will greatly increase the chances of survival for both mother and child during pregnancy, labor and delivery. Approximately, 400 midwives have been trained at the Edna Adan University Hospital, and, recently, the Edna Adan Hospital Foundation (EAHF) awarded scholarships to 50 Somaliland women to be trained as post-basic midwives. The grant will be used to fund examinations, clinical training, supplies and transportation.

The United Nations Fund For Population (UNFPA) as well as individual donors and private charities support Edna to train Midwives over the years. Edna remains determined to reach her goal of training 1,000 midwives and return them to their communities where they will be able to save the lives of mothers and infants far into the future.

The mission of EAHF is to provide all Somaliland women the opportunity for healthy pregnancies and safe childbirths, to provide all infants with the healthy start they deserve and to eliminate the practice of FGM. For more information about our organization, please visit:

This post originally appeared on the Girls' Globe site.

This blog post is part of a series produced by HuffPost Global Motherhood in partnership with MDG456Live in recognition of this week's events surrounding the Millennium Development Goals. To see all other posts in the series, click here. For more highlights from MDG Week, click here.