The Commitment of a Midwife in Mogadishu

Speaking to new mothers on newborn care and nutrition during a clinic session, Habibo is on the front line of the struggle to save mothers and infants lives in Somalia. For her, midwifery is a calling and she has been practicing the profession for more than 20 years. Currently she is the chief midwife at a Mother and Child Health (MCH) Centre supported by CISP in Mogadishu.

She champions the reduction of maternal mortality in Somalia, by encouraging women to utilize the free services that are on offer in the MCH; such as antenatal and postnatal care, immunization, and maternity services. One in 16 women is likely to die during child birth in Somalia; this is according to the State of the World's Mothers Report 2013. Using illustrations in a photo book, she advises a group of 10 mothers on the importance of post-natal care, immunization, nutrition and most notably breastfeeding. She expresses concern that some nursing mothers don't get enough food and this affects the quantity of their breast milk and negatively affects the health of their children.

Habibo is passionate about her work, "during the war I still practiced midwifery at home" she says. She keeps a box of new baby clothes in the MCH which she gives to the new mothers as a baby gift. "This is my special gift to encourage mothers to come to the health center," she adds.

Unpredictability is one of the challenges in midwifery; "no one knows when the child may arrive," she says adding that she often works odd hours after the health center is closed for the day. Another challenge that she faces is the small capacity of the center's delivery room. "The delivery room only has space for three beds and thus it's very congested. However, it serves the purpose," she remarks.

CISP currently supports three MCHs in Mogadishu to provide lifesaving health services and to promote improved health practices, by training health workers and focusing on maternal and child health by improving access to free comprehensive antenatal and postnatal care for mothers and newborns, as well as encouraging pregnant women to seek assisted delivery.