Somalia

In memory of Somalia's lost medical graduates

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On 3 December, a suicide bomber at a graduation ceremony in Mogadishu claimed the lives of 20 people and injured over 60. Among the dead and wounded was some of the country's brightest medical talent.

Over 20 medical students were celebrating their graduation from Benadir University. Hundreds of friends, family, professors and senior Ministers had gathered to share in their phenomenal achievement: the students are only the second class to complete their training, having spent six years studying. The previous year's graduates - 20 men and women - were the first newly trained doctors in Somalia for 18 years.

The bomb also claimed the lives of three of Somalia's senior Ministers, including the Minister for Health.

Somalia has some of the fewest trained health workers in the world

Few countries need skilled health staff more than Somalia, a country which shoulders some of the world's highest rates of death and disease. Currently there is just one trained health worker for every 25,000 people, far below the World Health Organisation's minimum of 2.3 per 1,000 people.

Linda Doull, Merlin's Director of Health and Policy spoke on behalf of the Merlin team in Somalia: "Such a huge loss of people dedicated to rebuilding Somalia's fragile health system is a tragedy. More worryingly, this is not the first time health workers have been deliberately targeted: we've seen similar - though thankfully smaller - incidents in countries where Merlin works including Gaza, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Afghanistan."

Action needed to protect health workers

"While we, and all charities, take every precaution to ensure people are not put at unnecessary risk, the international community must recognise the increasingly dangerous role health workers are being forced to play. It is our duty to ensure those who save lives are given the protection and support they need."

Merlin has been working in Somalia since 2003. Today our work concentrates on disease control and prevention as well as delivering emergency health and nutrition. The fragile peace means our projects are run by national staff at the forefront of the insecurity - and supported by teams based in Kenya.

Put your hand up for a health worker now

Merlin's Hands Up for Health Workers campaign profiles and champions staff working in some of the world's most dangerous territories. Click here to raise your hand for a midwife in Afghanistan, a surgeon in Gaza or a nurse in CAR and help us make sure they, and others like them, are given the support and protection they deserve.