Saturday, November 18, 2017

Doctors Worldwide Turkey Helped Some Somali Physicians to Further their Knowledge in Medicine

Five Somali doctors on Friday graduated from medical school under a special program organized by a Turkish NGO.
The new MDs got their diplomas from the program organized by Doctors Worldwide Turkey (DWWT) at a ceremony in Mogadishu, the capital of the Horn of Africa country.
Safa Simsek of the NGO told Anadolu Agency: "Apart from nine physicians who graduated last year from the program, which we started in 2013 in Somalia, five more doctors graduated this year, including three general practitioners and two internal medicine specialists."
Simsek also pointed to Muhammad Osman, a 12-year-old Somali who got cataracts six years ago, and was cured by Turkish doctors in a free operation.
"To date we have performed 3,000 cataract surgeries in Somalia," he added.
Cataracts are an eye condition that results in cloudy vision.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Dentist in Somalia is Giving Hope by Offering Free 24/7 Ambulance Services for Victims

Photo file: Amin Ambulance serving to victims in Mogadishu by volunteers
In war-torn Somalia where volunteers are hard to come by, one man stands tall.
In Somalia, health care is in disarray making proper treatment of tragedy victims a tall order.
Fortunately, Dr Abdulkadir Abdirahman Adan is giving hope to those in need by offering free, 24-hour ambulance service and ensuring people get better medical care.
Dr Adan quit a well-paying job in Pakistan to set up Aamin Ambulance that is operating in the capital Mogadishu.
Aamin Ambulance

Dr Abdulkadir Abdirahman Adan, the founder of Aamin Ambulance. FILE PHOTO | COURTESY

The deplorable state of the health industry nudged the trained dentist to ameliorate the situation.
There are few ambulances to transport casualties to hospitals.
"When I came back to the country, there was a war going on and people were using wheelbarrows to get patients to hospitals.
"It led to deaths on the way to hospitals, the persons carrying the patient would be tired. That motivated me to respond and set up Aamin Ambulance Service. It has helped to stop deaths," Dr Adan said, adding that many lack the skill to perform first aid.
With little resources he had, he set up the company that is now 10 years old
"I shed tears, it hurt me to see my own countrymen suffering. I was not going to run away. I had to do something.
"I put all my savings and bought a second hand van for a start. We slowly grew and today I am proud of where we have reached though I know we can grow even bigger and offer better services.
"If I place 'I' before the word Aamin, it becomes 'trust me'," he explained.
He added that settling on the name has endeared him to the people, who are not used to having volunteers.
The company has recorded significant growth, boasting of a team of 35 nurses, paramedics, drivers, along with a fleet of 10 vehicles.
He said he has plans of expanding it to other regions.
One of the agency that has contributed to his humanitarian endeavours is the United Nations Development Programme, which donated walkie-talkies.
The portable radios have enabled his staff work better during emergencies.
"When there is an emergency, everyone tries to make a telephone call and there is a jam on the telephone networks.
"But the walkie-talkies will make a difference. They will simplify communication among us, coordination among ambulances and collaboration with hospitals."
Regarding the October 14 truck bomb in Mogadishu that killed more than 300 people, he described it as the 'worst attack'.
He staff, he said, were very instrumental in stanching further deaths.
"It was an explosion that traumatized us. I cannot count how many trips we managed to make but I can only thank our staff, they gave their all and managed to save many lives."
And he believes that with assistance from well-wishers, more citizens will benefit from the services his company provides.
"My dream is to reach every district, every village in the regions to serve people.
"But all I can ask is the government to come and assist by setting up a station park for the ambulances where they can also be repaired," Dr Adan said.

Rwandan Government Sends Medical Aid to Somalia

Somali officials received a 10 tonnes medicine support by Rwanda.(Courtesy)
The government of Somalia has expressed gratitude over a consignment of medical relief delivered yesterday by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Claude Nikobisanzwe.
In a series of tweets on Monday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation said that the charity act follows last month’s horrific terror attack in Zobe District of Mogadishu town which has left over 250 people dead.
During the reception of the relief by Abdinasir Saeed Musse, the Deputy Minister of Internal Security and Amb Ali Mohamed Ali, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Somalia, Nikobisanzwe said that Rwanda has been saddened and touched by the atrocity that happened two weeks ago.
“The donation of medicine is a humble contribution from Rwanda to Somalia's efforts to rebuild the health system,” Nikobisanzwe.
The relief that was received at Aden Ade International Airport in the Somali capital Mogadishu consisted varied medical supplies weighing ten tonnes.
“Rwanda is also ready to share experience with Somalia in many areas including of public order and health among others,” he added.
The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Rwanda, Claude Nikobisanzwe delivers a speech during the event. 
On behalf of the Somali government and people of Somalia, the country’s said thanked the government of Rwanda and their people for the brotherly support.
“This support responds to the tragedy that had happened on 14th October. I would also like to thank Ministers Louise Mushikiwabo and Diane Gashumba of cause the Ministry of Health of Rwanda for the efforts put till today,” Somali Minister of Health, Fawziya Abaikar Nur said in a tweet.
The deadliest single blast in this country caused by a massive truck explosion killed more than 300 and wounded over 600 other.
No group has yet officially claimed the responsibility for the attack thought Somali government blamed Al Shabaab militia.

Mobile clinics bring stable care to moving populations in Somaliland

Somali Red Crescent Society health workers check the height of a boy at one of their mobile clinics. Photo by: Sara Jerving / Devex
Dallow, SOMALILAND — Twenty-year old Safia Ali Abdi had never been to the doctor before she lined up at a mobile clinic under an acacia tree one October morning this year. She left her home at 7am, carrying her five-month old son Sakaria in her arms along a four-hour walk to seek care. Both their mouths had been sore and bleeding, which made it hard for Sakaria to breastfeed.
When Abdi arrived, she found three nurses and a midwife, with a line of patients waiting. The clinic was comprised of two tables, now stacked with medicine, scales to measure body weight, a wooden block for measuring height, and a tent for the midwife to examine pregnant women and new mothers. Abdi and her son were diagnosed with stomatitis, a condition that causes sores and swelling in the mouth. They were given zinc tablets and anti-fungal oral drops, and sent home.
Abdi is a pastoral nomad, used to moving throughout Somaliland with the family’s flocks. But their lives changed drastically four months ago when 100 of her 120 sheep and goats died amid an ongoing drought. In better times, her family would breed the livestock, slaughter some, and sell others to buy food in the market. Now the remaining animals are too stressed from the drought to breed or produce milk. Her family is slowly selling off the remaining livestock to buy white rice — all they currently eat.
Nurses asked Abdi to bring her son back to the clinic when it visits her area again in a month. The young mother, however, is unclear where her family will be by then.
Nomadic communities like Abdi’s are among the most challenging populations to reach with consistent health care. The World Health Organization estimates that there are at least 400 million people who lack access to at least one or more essential health services, leading to scores of preventable deaths worldwide.
“You could very well see a village that has 200 people this week, but next week it has 50 because it’s a nomadic-based village and they’ve all gone to find water,” said Dorothy Francis, acute watery diarrhea, drought and food security operations manager for International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Somalia Country Office.
Mobile clinics are one of the primary strategies to fill those gaps here. The Somali Red Crescent Society, supported by the IFRC, operates 33 mobile clinics to provide communities with basic health services in remote regions of Somaliland. To track the roving communities, they use a patient record system. They have built a network of community members who will keep them in the loop as the nomads move. Finally, the SRCS and IFRC are working to explain the challenges to donors, who often demand more precise accounting than is possible with populations in flux. The mobile teams are reactive to the needs of the community, and can reach patients in areas that lack vehicle or ambulance services.

Providing health services to nomads in Somaliland
Red Crescent mobile health services are reaching rural communities in Somaliland to give basic health care 🚑 This solution still has room for improvement 🏥 Reporting trip underwritten by International Committee of the Red Cross / International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
Posted by Devex on Monday, November 13, 2017
via Facebook

The SRCS mobile clinic efforts are a step above what other Red Cross societies are doing in other nations, said Kwame Darko, health delegate to the IFRC Somalia Country Office.
“Most national societies could respond to health emergencies by mobilizing volunteers, but not mainly on a consistent basis like the SRCS is doing with the mobile and static clinics,” he said.
The intervention may provide insights for countless other mobile and hard-to-reach communities, as United Nations member states push for universal health coverage as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. The goals call for quality essential services and access to medicines and vaccines, without putting patients at financial risk.
“The mobile clinics have become the main vehicle for getting to the hard-to-reach societies,” said Francis.

Hard to reach

Somaliland unilaterally declared independence from Somalia in 1991, creating its own government institutions, police force, and currency. Its independence is not recognized internationally, however, and therefore has limited access to international funds that could help build health infrastructure, said Francis.
The tight government budget prioritizes security, including its armed forces and police, leaving only 4 percent of the budget to health, said Ahmed Bakal, Somaliland coordinator for the SRCS. For its part, the Ministry of Health exhausts much of its resources funding hospitals in urban areas, leaving remote areas underserved. The SRCS uses both stationary and mobile clinics to help with unmet needs. It acts independently, but provides supplementary care that is coordinated by the government.
The mobile clinic that came to Dallow targets a population of 6,000 when it visits under the acacia tree each month. As a whole, the mobile unit reaches over 29,000 people each month, moving from village to village, sometimes offering clinics in two places per day.

The Somali Red Crescent Society sets up mobile clinics in remote areas across Somaliland. Photo by: Sara Jerving / Devex

When the health team arrives in a village, they set up wherever there is space, often under a tree or inside a hut. The nurses weigh children, check pregnant women for anemia, take patient blood pressure, and diagnose acute conditions, often giving out medicine. If a child needs an IV, the drip is hung from whatever is available, be it a tree or a hut roof.
Mobile teams can follow as the population moves, adjusting their location, said Hussein Mohammed Osman, branch secretary for the SRCS Berbera Branch. The SRCS uses community volunteers, often nomads themselves, who check in with the SRCS through their mobile phones, informing the health workers about the community’s plans to move to find water.
“The [SRCS] branch has a good idea most times what their caseload is going to be, depending on the time of year, depending on what sort of rain they’ve gotten,” said Francis.
The mobile teams are reactive and responsive to the needs of the populations, she said. 
“If they need to provide oral rehydration sachets in a cholera outbreak, they find the hot spots and they can do that. If there is a measles outbreak, they find the hot spots, get the support they need, and respond,” she said.
Since July, as a food crisis in the region has deepened, mobile clinics have included a nutrition specialist. This specialist determines whether a child is malnourished and then provides them with enough packs of nutrition supplements to last until the next time the clinic visits the area. UNICEF has estimated that 1.4 million children will need treatment for acute malnutrition in Somalia this year.  
Nomadic populations find out about the clinics through “social mobilizers” — volunteers in the communities trained to spread the word through phone calls, home visits, and community meetings.  
Mobile clinic services are free, preventing patients from having to take on a financial burden for care — one of WHO’s key principles of universal health coverage. For many of those that the SRCS serves, paying would rule out seeking health care, said Darko. Abdi, for example, told Devex she would not have come to the clinic if the treatment wasn’t free.

Samiira Mohammed Ali, a midwife with one of the Somali Red Crescent Society's mobile clinics, checks one of her patients for anemia. Photo by: Sara Jerving / Devex

Continuity and accountability

The clinics, of course, have their limitations — for example in emergencies, situations that require complex procedures, or even maternal health care.
Muna Juma Elmi, a midwife with one of the mobile teams, offers pregnant women her telephone number and asks them to call her when they go into labor. If she is nearby, Elmi rushes to the home with her delivery kit, she explained to Devex.
But if the patients have moved, and Elmi is far from their home, she may take time to reach the woman in labor. If she can’t make it personally, Elmi calls for an ambulance. If the woman is in an area not accessible by car, Elmi is driven as far as the car will go, and then she walks to the woman. But delays could lead to complications in the delivery.
Understanding the health history of a nomadic patient can also be tricky. SRCS provides patients with health cards that detail their basic information. The goal is to ensure that their visit to a health worker is a continuation of previous care, said Faisal Farah, health officer for the SRCS Berbera Branch. For example, if a patient is taking medication but moves to a new location, a new clinic could help ensure continuity of access. Farah says the records are largely effective, although some patients forget to carry them to visits.

Samiira Mohammed Ali checks the blood pressure of one of her patients. Photo by: Sara Jerving / Devex

The constant turnover of people also makes it harder to check back in with individuals to evaluate if the aid given to them was effective. Francis said it has been important to be upfront with donors about this challenge, ensuring they accept the ambiguity of the circumstances.
“It’s not the easiest operation to be accountable,” she said. “But we are able to demonstrate that the process is there.”
Funds for the mobile clinics are not stable, said Kaltun Hussein, national health officer for the SRCS. Funds are currently coming from the Icelandic Red Cross, the Finnish Red Cross, and the Swedish Red Cross. Money from IFRC’s emergency appeal in response to the drought is also supporting the mobile clinics.
Mobile services are expected to become increasingly important as the food crisis deepens in the Horn of Africa. The Deyr rainy season, which runs from October to December, is expected to be below average for the fourth year in a row. This may push 2.3 million people into crisis conditions, and another 800,000 into emergency conditions, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network.
As the crisis moves forward, the mobile clinics are an effective use of funding to reach broader populations and more investment should be funneled into their operations, said Darko.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The story of a doctor who lost his eyesight; fought back and helped 10,000 people with disability find jobs

The journey so far
In 2004, Dr Jitender Aggarwal, who was a practising dental surgeon lost his vision due to macular degeneration of retina. For four years, the doctor fought with the anguish that people with disabilities face on a daily basis. 
“Non-inclusive environment and limited access to resources were some of the biggest constraints and the fact that I had to depend on someone was negatively impacting me in a big way,” he points out.
Instead of submitting his fate to the generosity of people, Jitender decided to take charge to help himself and millions in the same situation. He first got himself trained in screen readers and other software to manage and execute his daily activities through computers.
After equipping himself he embarked on his journey to empower and create an inclusive world for people with disabilities. In 2008, he gave wings to his dream with the first Sarthak Centre in Delhi, which aimed at providing skills and employing visually impaired candidates in the field of medical transcription.
“During the period 2004-2007, it was like roaming in the dark as I did not know what PwD in India faced. I researched and found that the disabled are treated with charity and not with economic empowerment. That provided me an impetus to start Sarthak and help the disabled live with integrity,” reveals Jitender Aggarwal, Founder of Sarthak Educational Trust.

 India is home to 2.7 crore people living with one or the other kind of disability. According to the 2011 Census, 2.21 percent of India’s population is differently-abled. Unlike the developed world, India’s disabled are made further socially vulnerable due to lack of quality education, lack of women’s safety, and attitudinal barriers as they continue to grapple with the challenges of access, acceptance, and inclusion.
However, in a not so disabled-friendly country like India, there are champions of change who have defied all odds and turned their physical disability into their greatest strength. Prominent oncologist Suresh Advani (recipient of Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan), music director Ravindra Jain, the first woman amputee to climb Mount Everest Arunima Sinha are some among many who taught us that a strong will and determination is all that you need to change your dreams into reality.
One such achiever is Jitender Aggarwal, who is also being hailed as a messiah by the disabled community. His organisation Sarthak Educational Trust is a holistic platform for providing skills and empowering disabled persons and has so far placed nearly 10000 disabled candidates in various sectors including retail, BPOs, IT and hospitality, through its 13 skill development centres present across India.
 Helping people with disabilities
Focusing on holistic development of PwD (persons with disability), the organisation follows four models of training – basic training programme, employability training programme, corporate linked training programme and medical transcriptions.
In basic training programme, candidates between the ages of 18 and 30 years are enrolled in a three-month training programme, which covers basic life skills. After completion of the course, the successful candidates are assessed and certified. The corporate training programme, which lasts for about 15 days aims to enhance the professional growth of differently-abled candidates and under this programme, candidates are provided on-the-job training.
The employability training programme, designed for candidates between 18 and 30 years, focuses on employability enhancement and employment generation of the trainees. The duration of this programme varies from 60 days to 90 days and is divided into two phases. Phase one refers to foundation course, wherein, individual is provided with basic understanding of computer skills, English, and soft skills. In the second phase, trade specific training is provided to the trainees in the area of retail, BPO, IT and hospitality.
Though the core focus of the organisation is on skill development and employment of the differently-abled, it is also working in other areas like early intervention (helps in identifying and preventing disability at early stages in young ones), inclusive education (working towards inclusive education by checking school drop-outs and inclusion of disabled students.), advocacy initiatives (creating sensitisation about the capability of differently abled candidates among corporates), NGO capacity building (conducting workshops for NGOs working to help persons with disability) and accessible event management support (helping corporates host barrier free events for disabled audience).

How can India become more disabled-friendly?
Last year, the Lok Sabha passed the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2016, which replaced the existing PwD Act, 1995 enacted 21 years ago. According to the latest bill, the types of disabilities included in the bill have been increased from 7 to 21.
In a developing country like India, the road to accessibility is a long, winding one. As the Director of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), Javed Abidi correctly pointed out,
“Just one in 250 hotel rooms in India are accessible to the disabled whereas globally the ratio is 1:50.”
However, in 2015 the government embarked on its journey to make India disabled-friendly, launched a nation-wide campaign for achieving universal accessibility for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) – Accessible India Campaign.
Jitender feels that a lot more needs to be done in making the community feel secure in the society.
“Firstly, counting of people with disabilities must be done again by the government as the number of disabilities have been increased to 21 last year. Initially the PwD population was close to three percent but now people are expecting it to be more than 10 percent. Secondly, the most important thing required to empower the community is accessibility,” adds Jitender.
Other initiatives
Apart from the various initiatives aimed at building an inclusive platform for the disabled community, Sarthak also conducts the National Conference on Disability every year. This year, the 4thNational Conference will be held on November 9, 2017 at AICTE, New Delhi and aims to bring together powerful voices including stakeholders from government, corporate, civil societies, media, and PwD to brainstorm and discuss various pressing needs of the disability sector.
Last year, the conference created a significant buzz and was attended by around 300 policy makers, planners, innovators, and implementers.
Plans to go global
Jitender believes that disabilities affect people across globe and Sarthak, which has already transformed thousands of lives in India, soon aims to positively impact the disabled communities in neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka, Bhutan and many more.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Pneumonia: The Forgotten Killer Disease in Somalia

Pneumonia kills more than two children every hour in Somalia, even though it can be treated with antibiotics costing as little as USD 50 cents, says Save the Children new report

The report, Fighting for Breath is part of the global report launched today 2nd November 2017, which also marks the launch of Save the Children’s effort against pneumonia, which aims to save a million lives in the next five years. In Somalia, the report was launched in Garowe, Puntland by the Minister of Health, Hon Dr Abdinasir Osman Isse.

The report indicates that 14,561 Somali children succumbed to pneumonia in 2015 alone –which is more than two children dying every hour.  This implies 24% of all under five mortality is due to pneumonia.  The situation may get worse if drastic measures are not taken to save children’s lives.

“The Government has prioritized prevention and treatment of pneumonia. However we cannot do it alone. We need all the key stakeholders to join efforts and ensure children have access to quality health services at all levels of service delivery,” says Hon. Dr Abdinasir Osman Isse.
The Minister also added that, there is a need to increase investment in the primary health care systems as well as prioritize effective prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of pneumonia.

‘The situation is worse in Somalia.  Food shortages as a result of drought in the country has left millions of children malnourished; making them more vulnerable to diseases including pneumonia, said Abdiqafar Hange, the Area Representative for Save the Children Puntland. 
“We are doing all it takes to save these children. We should not ignore pneumonia at this critical time.  
At the global level this ‘forgotten child killer’, is responsible for the deaths of more children under five than any other disease—more than malaria, diarrhea and measles combined.

More than 80% of the victims are children under two years old, many with immune systems weakened by malnutrition or insufficient breastfeeding and unable to fight the infection. Infants are at their most vulnerable in the first weeks of life.

Save the Children is calling for 166 million under-twos to be immunized and for action to help 400 million worldwide with no access to health care. Half of all mothers in Africa have no health care around the time of birth. 

Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary-General and Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation, who is backing the global effort, said the cost of vaccines—$9.15 in poor countries—was too high. ‘Pharmaceutical companies, governments, aid donors and UN agencies need to come together to make the vaccine prices more affordable to save more lives,’ he added.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Somali Baby Born at At 32,000ft In The Air!

Picture: New born baby
Jubba Airlines flight on Saturday witnessed the unscheduled arrival of an extra passenger after a mother gave birth mid-air.

Ibtisam was 30 weeks pregnant when she settled in seat 11A on a flight from Hargeisa to Mogadishu. Shortly after takeoff, Ibtisam began to feel uneasy and other passengers seated nearby quickly took notice. One of those passengers Mohamed Abdi Jamal alerted Eng. Kaamil Abdiaziz Olol - Manager of Jubba Airways flight operations in Kenya - who was sitting in business class.

Kaamil rushed to Ibtisam who informed him that she was beginning to have contractions. He asked her how far along she was and she replied that was 7 months pregnant.

"I realized that she was in serious pain," Kaamil told HOL by phone "I rushed to the front to update the cabin crew on the situation, and we decided to move her up to business class to make her more comfortable." 

A Jubba Airways flight attended named Rita, went on the PA system and asked if there was a doctor on the plane. Dr. Hafsa Ahmed, an obstetrician rose to the call and with the help of some passengers and cabin crew delivered Ibsitam's baby boy 32,000 FT above sea level over the small town of Qabridahare in the Ogaden region.

The team quickly reseated some passengers and put up a curtain for Ibtisam's privacy. The plane was equipped with a First Aid and Doctor Kit.
Joseph McCracken, a British National with experience as a paramedic examined the mother and baby and monitored their health.

Other passengers readily offered their new garments to wrap the newborn baby.
Eng. Kaamil A. Olol Diinle. PHOTO: COURTESY

Kaamil said that he asked the Captain Nishto contact Mogadishu Air Traffic Control to tell them that a baby has been delivered mid-air and to request an ambulance. 
The plane landed slightly ahead of schedule at Aden Adde International Airport and Ibtisam and her baby boy were escorted off the plane and onto a waiting ambulance.

Ibtisam decided to name her baby Kaamil, after the flight operator who went above and beyond to ensure that her baby was delivered safely.

In the aviation world, it is assumed that any baby born mid-air would be gifted free or discounted flights for the duration of their life. It is still unclear whether Jubba Airways will honour any such promotion.