Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

A little story about how stuff gets accomplished. In Somaliland. And on the Internet.


At Edna Hospital, we have been facing a problem of having too many newborn babies with breathing difficulties and those who are premature. As many as six infants occupy our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at one time, but we have only one incubator, which is both unsafe for the babies and un-professional but we had no alternative.

We are fully aware that making premature babies share an incubator is dangerous but had no other option when we have become the only hope for the survival of these small babies in Hargeisa.

The Edna Adan Hospital received the first premature baby incubator in 2002 as a donation from the Dutch Ambassador who visited our hospital. That incubator served us for several years and then developed electrical problems due to frequent power surges here. We then received two more from Direct Relief and only one is now working.

We desperately needed a simple premature baby incubators so that we may place each preemie in his/her incubator so that we could control each baby’s individual needs for oxygen, temperature and care.

Feb. 21, 2013

I am grateful and happy to inform you that the Minister of Commerce of Somaliland made a pledge to me the day before yesterday and, 24 hours later, made a donation of US$4000 to the hospital to go towards the purchase of a premature baby incubator.

Although I was under the impression that incubators cost less, I have just received the attached quotations from a supplier in Dubai and they seem to be so much more expensive then we originally thought.

Anyway, I will add the difference and order tomorrow one incubator (China) and an oxygen concentrator as well as some neonatal nasal catheters and face masks.

Thanks and blessings to all,


Incubator from China

NICU Wish List

Dr. Bruce adds, “Once one or two incubators are purchased, there are ongoing costs. Edna put it that it is like being given a car with no petrol. Each will need oxygen, resuscitation equipment, and all the many many items that are used and in need.”

If funds are available, we would then buy the following:

  1. Non-digital, simple to use incubators and having appropriate technology suitable for developing countries
  2. We do not have piped Oxygen supply and have to rely on portable Oxygen Concentrators which heat up after being ‘on’ for a few hours and have to be turned ‘off’ to cool down. This requires that each incubator have two Oxygen Concentrators.
  3. Spare filters and spare humidifier for each concentrator.
  4. Neonatal nasal canulae for preemies
  5. Neonatal Laryngoscope
  6. A supply of Suction bulbs to aspirate babies when they regurgitate to prevent inhalation pneumonia
  7. Neonatal naso-gastric feeding tubes
  8. A digital scale to weigh the preemies
  9. Auxillary thermometers
  10. Bottle warmers
  11. Preemie formula
  12. Preemie diapers
  13. Heating pads

Oxygen Concentrator

Dr. Eve Bruce, who came from Ireland to work in our NICU, posted a lot of photos of infants to Facebook together with a plea for the donation of an incubator. This prompted a supporter, Lyndsay Cimimi, to create a fundraiser at Crowdrise specifically toward purchase of an incubator.

In turn, the folks at Half the Sky took notice and brought further attention to the cause by way of their own Facebook page.

Meanwhile, Edna herself had a meeting with the Somaliland Minister of Commerce and the mayor of Hargeisa where she described the needs of the NICU. In 24 hours, she had in-hand $4000 from the government!

So, there is a new Incubator and a new Oxygen Concentrator on order. The funds from Crowdrise will go either toward a second new incubator or toward the purchase of other necessary equipment and supplies for our NICU.

Donate at Crowdrise

Comments below are by Dr. Bruce.


Dr. Eve Bruce

Mohamed, aka Tiger, was born 29 weeks prematurely. Here with Dr. Eve Bruce and his mother.

Nursing Student

Second year nursing student caring for one of the babies in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Beautiful Hassan

Beautiful Hassan who had aspiration pneumonia with poorly functioning kidneys and seizures from birth. Here he is with his beautiful and very happy mother.

This newborn was transferred in from another hospital very very sick with no urine output for days despite vigorous hydration, and with pneumonia.

This newborn was transferred in from another hospital very very sick with no urine output for days despite vigorous hydration, and with pneumonia.

Going Home

This baby was in fetal distress to a mother with low amniotic fluid volume. She refused the recommended Caesarian section delivery because this is her first child.
Apparently this is quite common – to refuse an emergency Caesarian if it is your first couple of children because that might limit you to three or four deliveries and, as I said in a previous post, parents here hope for at least nine children in order to have a few survive to adulthood.
The baby was born in distress with meconium aspiration, seizures and bleeding from his stomach with gastritis. His first week of life was very rocky in the ICU.
He is the cutest baby with a sweet smile. His parents dote on him, and his mother is smart and dedicated to him. Today he is going home with his parents. Alhamdulillah.

Born by C-section, this preemie was kept warm with water bottle and gloves filled with warm water.

Born by C-section, this preemie was kept warm with water bottle and gloves filled with warm water.

Nursing students

Nursing students after being up all night in the Neonatal ICU ~ and ready to go take an exam!


15 day old little girl with hydrocephalus one day after her shunt surgery in the NICU. Her head circumference is already decreasing. She has a twin brother (not hydrocephalic). The mother has her hands full!

We call this one Tiger

Little Mohamed doing well off oxygen on his Day 25, with Dr. Eve Bruce.

Young mothers bonding with their premature babies.

Young mothers bonding with their premature babies.


Little Mohamed, aka Tiger, held by his mother Layla in our little NICU. It is wonderful that maternal mortality is decreasing through Edna’s and others’ persistent work, but now neonatal mortality must also be addressed. If more babies survived, parents would not be driven to have 8 – 13 children just to ensure that 2 – 3 will make it to adulthood. Each pregnancy and birth putting the mother at more and more risk.

After her shunt for hydrocephalus

Little Deka whose head circumference has been shrinking after her shunt for hydrocephalus. The only baby here I have seen with a bottle. Her mother is with her twin and is a little too far away to be here all the time. She started bottle feeding Deka some time after her birth three weeks ago. I am giving her this bottle, which she loves…

Tiger @ 40 days

Here is Tiger on Day 40. with his maternal grandmother. Still weighing only 1.2kg but growing stronger every day.

Go to Dr. Eve Bruce’ Somaliland Essay