Mansoor Hotel, Hargeisa
A new chapter in the history of the Edna Adan University was written as the class of 2015, the first to graduate since the university opened its doors, were awarded Bachelor of Science degrees in Anesthesiology, Laboratory Technology and Pharmacology. This magnificent achievement was celebrated by the university community, special guests, family and friends, who gathered to witness this milestone event. Fikru Debebe Mekonnen, Dean of the Faculty of Public Health, reports:
A total of 46 graduating students were graced by the presence of Her Excellency Amina Weris Sheikh Mohamed, the First Lady of Somaliland. For the graduates, and their families, the occasion was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity they will never forget. The ceremony was attended by a host of special guests, including the Minister of Education and Higher Education, Mr Ahmed Nur Faahiye, former Ministers of Health, Dr Suleiman Abdi Guled and Mr Abdi Haybeh Mohamed, and Vice Minister H.E. Mawliid Mohamoud Karaani. Also present were political leaders, representatives of UN agencies, INGOs and government officials, not to mention proud parents and other family members. The result was a vibrant, colorful and celebratory atmosphere.
Guests included the former Minister of Health and other dignitaries
A proud daughter witnesses her mother graduate
The Minister of Higher Education congratulates the graduates
The ceremony opened with the Somaliland National Anthem and was followed by speeches from faculty Deans and student representatives. The keynote was delivered by the Chancellor, Dr Edna Adan Ismail, who paid tribute to the different stakeholders who support the university. His Excellency the Minister of Education and Higher Education, and political party representatives, also congratulated the students. The President of the University, Mr Mohamoud Hussein Osman, then announced, “Dear Graduates I hereby confirm that you are today recipients of a Bachelor of Health Science Degree, so please turn the tassels of your graduation cap right to left.”
H.E. Amina Weris Sheikh Mohamed, the First Lady of Somaliland, receives an Honorary Doctorate in Maternal and Child Health
The first award, an Honorary Doctoral Degree in Maternal and Child Health, was presented to Her Excellency the First Lady of Somaliland in recognition of her contribution to maternal and infant health as a Nurse, Midwife and Global Ambassador of CARMMA. In her acceptance speech, Her Excellency promised to maintain her efforts to ensure Somaliland achieves its targets in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and congratulated our graduates on their achievements: “I acknowledge that your journey in getting to this point has been far from easy and I know that, for all of you, it represents a long and sustained commitment to a program of study. I thank your parents and teachers who made it possible to achieve this success and to bear the responsibility that will hopefully bring better health to the people of Somaliland.”
Together with the Chancellor and President of the University, Her Excellency then awarded Bachelor Degrees to the 46 graduating students, 11 women and 35 men, in the fields of Anesthesiology, Laboratory Technology and Pharmacology. Our graduates, their family and guests, were notably impressed by the magnificence of the ceremony and splendor of the auditorium. Many declared themselves to be “bursting with pride”.
The Dean of Public Health and graduates stand shoulder to shoulder
The University President surrounded by Pharmacology graduates
Tassels to the left, graduates wear their cap and gown with pride
The 46 new graduates of the Edna Adan University bring the total number of health professionals to have received diplomas and Bachelor degrees from the Edna Adan University Hospital to 888 since the founding of the institution in 2002. A further 1038 students are currently enrolled in foundation, diploma and degree programs in Midwifery, Nursing, Anesthesiology, Laboratory Technology, Pharmacology, Dental Technology and Public Health.
Nurse Midwife Bernadette Lawlor came to our hospital as a volunteer in 2014. During her three-month stay in Hargeisa, Bernadette threw herself whole soul into helping student nurses develop their skills. One year on, during a brief return visit, Bernadette had occasion to recall some of the highlights of her stay, and marvel at the progress made by her students, once timid young women, now confident and competent professionals who are a credit to all who have invested in their training.
I first came to Edna’s Hospital in Somaliland in 2014 as a volunteer Nurse Midwife from Australia. Not knowing what to expect and wondering how to be of use, I was nevertheless confident someone would teach someone a little, either way.
One year on, Bernadette reconnects with her student nurses
I was lucky to have timed my visit to coincide with the student nurses starting their first rotation to the ward where they had to actually work on real patients. I’m not sure who was more nervous, them or me. They were a wonderful group of young and enthusiastic students, so keen to learn, so scared of that first procedure or major critical event. We bonded well and made for a good team. They helped me with local knowledge and language, I helped them with all things nursing.
The first thing I needed to adapt to was ‘time’, it seems Somaliland time was a little more ‘relaxed’ than my Aussie time. We agreed to meet each day at 11am to talk, debrief, have an impromptu lesson on relevant issues on the ward etc. I was forever waiting for them to come, but one by one they came. Time seems to have a different meaning here; I eventually relaxed right into it.
I had a wonderful three months. The students progressed well, became more confident and skilled. They were happy with their progress, some amazed at what they had achieved.
While I was at the Hospital, Edna took me on a day trip to Gabiley, a nearby town where she was recruiting the next group of Community Midwives. It was a lesson for me on how tough it was to be accepted onto the course – the interview process, the exam, and the ‘Edna Lecture’ of what she expected, should they be accepted. It was an interesting day and Edna was patient with all my questions on the return trip. I was so impressed by the effort and commitment these girls were prepared to make. It was quite an amazing opportunity they were about to be given. I left Somaliland with a huge smile on my face and a sense of experiencing something wonderful.
I had no plans to return until a holiday in 2015 put me in the northern hemisphere again and I couldn’t help but ‘pop in’ to see how the students and everyone were going. Although a much shorter trip this time, it was great to see how the students were progressing, so much more confident and experienced.
Exam results announced
Over dinner one evening, Edna brought to my attention that the student Community Midwives currently on the ward were actually the young ladies we went to Gabiley to assess. They had made it through the first stage of study. It brought a wonderful sense of progress. They had developed from shy young girls to keen and eager student midwives. Great progress to witness.
Edna and all the staff who invest in the training of these young men and women should be so proud. Providing, as they do, hope and a future to these young adults of Somaliland. I felt privileged to have witnessed a snippet of Somaliland’s new future. Thank you to everyone at the Edna Adan Hospital for such a wonderful stay, both times. I look forward to seeing the graduation photos of both classes on the website.
Last month, the Edna Adan University Hospital hosted a special one-day medical conference on the subject of congenital and acquired disabilities among children in the Horn of Africa. The first of its kind in Somaliland, this was a landmark event for our hospital and the medical profession, drawing over 100 delegates from all corners of the country and beyond.
Since 2011, our hospital has been hosting surgical camps for infants and children suffering birth defects and acquired disabilities. Patients travel from a wide geographical area within the Horn of Africa to receive free treatment for conditions such as hydrocephalus, spina bifida, hypospadias, club foot, cleft lips and palates. Over the past four years the visiting surgeons involved in the camps observed a need for education among health professionals, both of the nature of the conditions and of the availability of treatment.
Dr Deeqa in action at a surgical camp hosted by the Edna Adan Hospital
Held at the Mansoor Hotel in Hargeisa, the conference offered all in attendance an opportunity to reflect on how children suffering physical disabilities in East Africa might best be served by the hospitals, medical schools and practitioners charged with their care. Opened by the Director General of the Ministry of Health, approximately 30 organisations were represented, including local and international NGOs, health and educational facilities. 13 representatives of the Ministry of Health attended from all regions of Somaliland.
Here she shares her expertise in the surgical treatment of hydrocephalus
The three keynote speakers and other invited specialists presented on the opportunities and challenges surrounding surgical treatment offered at our hospital for congenital and acquired disabilities. Each considered what might have been overlooked in the past and what needs to be addressed in the future. Several health presenters also discussed post-operative community rehabilitation for children. Some delegates were unaware of treatments available within Somaliland. It is hoped that the information presented will be shared with their colleagues, and within the communities they serve, in order that those affected will receive the treatment needed for an improved quality of life.
The conference represented the culmination of many years of dedicated service on the part of neuro-pediatric surgeon Dr Richard Bransford, as, for the first time, former trainees, Drs Shukri Dahir and Deeqa Omar, shared their expertise on the treatment of conditions such as hydrocephalus and spina bifida. The event closed with a number of awards: to Dr Bransford a certificate of appreciation, and to Drs Shukri and Deeqa, a certificate of achievement in recognition of their competence as surgeons, fully equipped to independently perform a range of procedures for children with physical disabilities.
The full conference report is available here
Dr Bransford receives a certificate of appreciation for his years of service
Conference speakers, hospital staff and board members gather
Dr Shukri reviews the list of patients awaiting surgery