Promoting maternal and child health and improved nutrition in Somalia
Title: Promoting maternal and child health and improved nutrition in Somalia
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Health and Human Services, Somalia; Puntland Ministry of Health; Somaliland Ministry of Health
Overall term: 2016 to 2019
Despite efforts by Somali authorities to improve maternal and child health, and the population’s nutrition situation, child and maternal mortality in Somalia is still at one of the world’s highest levels. There are various reasons for this. The health system is underfinanced and of poor quality, there are insufficient and under qualified staff, and access roads and health centres are in short supply. The Islamic and traditional influences mean there is often scepticism towards, or rejection of sexual and reproductive health measures and ‘modern’ medical care. Only a quarter of women have access to prenatal care and only about one in ten births is assisted by qualified healthcare personnel. Over a quarter of children under five years of age suffer from chronic malnutrition. The nutritional and breastfeeding practices for infants from birth and 23 months deviate considerably from international recommendations. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the national average rate of child immunisation with the measles vaccine is 46 per cent. In Germany, by comparison, the rate is between 80 and 94 per cent.
The health care and advisory services for pregnant women and mothers as well as for newborns and young children has improved in Puntland, Somaliland and in Somalia’s southern and central regions.
The project focuses on three main areas.
By building up additional basic health care services, the project is improving access to better nutrition, basic hygiene and basic health care for pregnant women, mothers and children. With extensive information campaigns, for example, on the significance of immunisation, it is also creating greater trust in the state-run healthcare system.
To enhance the health and nutrition services for mothers and children, the project team also provides training for the staff of regional and district health centres. These employees learn how to advise mothers on basic hygiene, nutrition and healthcare, and how to convince them of their importance.
The project promotes the accreditation of public and private training institutions and strengthens the educational and technical skills of the teaching personnel in the training facilities. This is intended to enhance the training given to midwives, obstetricians and nutrition advisors. Meanwhile, the project also conducts a targeted dialogue with the health ministries to encourage better personnel planning in the health sector to meet the existing needs.
To improve the management and coordination capacities of the health authorities, the project is currently piloting an electronic data system. It is also working to develop a multisectoral dialogue involving, for instance, the health, education and agriculture ministries, with the aim of bolstering food security for the population.