Explorer Christopher Stanfield is embarking on his most profound adventure to date… Trekking over land and sea, across the vast barren desert of north east Africa, from Port Sudan down through the Red Sea to Djibouti, across the immense Djibouti terrain descending into the rugged mass of Somaliland, continuing on to his final destination Edna Adan’s Maternity hospital.
This world first is an extraordinary feat of endurance aiming to highlight the health of the people of Somaliland, and raise £100,000 to go towards helping the hospital to continue to flourish.
September 8th, Brit Christopher along with U.S. film maker Dave Adams shall be arriving in Egypt and trek south until arriving in Port Sudan where they will hitch a boat down the Red sea as far as Djibouti, from there he will continue into Somaliland finishing at Edna Adan’s Maternity Hospital in Hargeisa.
This extraordinary adventure will take approximately 4 months covering over 3000 miles across some of the world’s most harsh and politically challenging terrain. He will be filming the journey in its entirety with the goal to take this adventure to the masses via media.
The documentary aims to show the diverse nature of each country, incorporating the lives and culture of the people, highlighting the impact their health care systems have on them. It will also encapsulate every emotion, every triumph and every difficulty encountered in their rawest forms. The expedition will have an underlying theme to provide an inspirational distraction from our modern lives and ultimately show that despite our world’s current problems, there is still so much hope to be had.
And just like Edna’s hospital is an inspiring white light in Somaliland, this expedition will be an inspiration to many round the globe… ‘ A small axe can chop a big tree’ x
– Kindest regards, Christopher Stanfield
Update: Edna plans to walk with Christopher the last kilometer as he nears the Edna Hospital.
You can Follow Christopher on Facebook, for updates. And watch the videos below.
Here is a summary, provided by Edna Adan, of some of the highlights of these past few months:
1. After the operating theatre was opened, we had the visit of surgeons from Kijabe hospital who performed the first operations in the new facilities equipped with supplies received from the Fistula Foundation and Direct Relief.
Among the operations performed were seven children with hydrocephalus who had Shunts inserted to drain the fluid from their heads. This was the first time that this kind of operation was performed in our country and feel happy that all Shunts inserted have been a success and the children are brought to us once a week for following up on their condition and to measure the circumference of their head to record the slow diminution of the size of the head.
2. Also performed by the Kijabe Hospital were 14 men and women who had contractures from burns and who had the contractures released and skin grafted on wounds to prevent or lessen the contractures. With varying degrees of success, all skin grafted ‘took’ and after returning for dressings after discharge, all have their dressings removed and no longer need dressings although some will need to have further skin grafted on other parts of their bodies in the future.
3. We have had a Cleft lip/palate repair camp for Smile Train when 29 persons mostly children were repaired. These operations were also performed by the Kijabe doctors.
4. Our major surgical work remains to be the repair of obstetrical fistulae and other operations for women with obstetrical and gynaecological problems. These operations were performed by surgeons sent to us by our WAHA-International partners.
5. Lastly, we have a team of surgeons and an anesthetist from Vanderbilt University performing obtetrical fistulae repair. So far they have repaired a good number with some women on the list for operation during the next few days. A great team and look forward to our future collaboration as we would love to have them again whenever they can spare us some of their precious time. A great experience for our nurses and our medical students.
6.In addition to the above, we have started the entrance examinations for the midwives who wish to study for the Bachelor of Science Degree in Midwifery. This is in partnership with Hargeisa University and the Tropical Health and Education Trust -UK (THET) who is funded by DFID and sent us the Lead Tutor for this course. This will be the first time that such a Degree is being offered in Somaliland and proud that it could be achieved in my lifetime.
My ambition now is to start the Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing if I can find the resources and the expertise to do it.
7. Very appreciative that I have been included by Women Deliver to the list of one hundred persons who they thought had contributed to the health of women during the past year.
9. My ambition to train 1000 midwives for the Horn of Africa remains stronger than ever but no funding support for this has been secured to date.
These are just some of the activities we could report and will keep you informed of further developments such as the invitation from WHO to address the forthcoming World Health Assembly but feel that we should wait to report this until after it happens.
The following is excerpted from a newsletter published by The Fistula Foundation. Together with Direct Relief, they are funding the construction and equipping of an operating theater block where women from throughout this region of East Africa will undergo surgery to repair obstetric fistulas.
Photos of the newly constructed operating theaters appears below. We hope to soon be able to provide photos of these facilities that include the newly installed surgical equipment.
It is estimated that less than 5% of Somaliland’s mothers deliver with help from a trained midwife or doctor. Lack of access to good quality emergency obstetric care contributes to high levels of maternal death and disability, including obstetric fistula.
…A grant of $150,000 from The Fistula Foundation is funding the building of a new Operating Theater Block dedicated to fistula treatment that will significantly increase the capacity of Edna Adan to treat fistula patients.
…Foundation partner Direct Relief International, who has been a supporter of the Edna Adan Hospital since 2005, is coordinating this project. The grant also will equip that facility, support training of staff and care of an estimated 144 fistula patients. The Foundation is grateful to our partner Direct Relief International for working with the Edna Adan Hospital to expand their fistula treatment and prevention program.
“..But it is Somaliland that has accurately been dubbed Africa’s best kept secret.
“In June this year, the region held its second democratic presidential election, which was observed to be free, fair and credible by observers from the US, the UK, Norway and South Africa. To top it all, Somaliland witnessed a continental rarity in the peaceful transfer of power to the opposition candidate, Ahmed Mohamed Silaanyo.”
Somaliland: What Somalia Could Be is a new article written by Dr. J. Peter Pham recounting some of the history of both Somaliland and Somalia. Dr. Pham speaks highly of Edna Adan and of the hospital as an example of the good things that can happen in the presence of good governance. He discusses at length just how good government in Africa can come about. (And why it has failed to come about in Somalia – once again the World’s #1 Most Failed State )
Meanwhile, civil society, so devastated in the rest of the Somali lands, has made tremendous strides in Somaliland, carving out a space for private civic and charitable engagement. To cite just one example, the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital in Hargeisa, founded in 2002 by Edna Adan Ismail, the former foreign minister of Somaliland (2003-2006) who donated her pension from the World Health Organization as well as other personal assets to it, provides a higher standard of care than available anywhere else in the Somali lands for maternity and infant conditions as well as diagnosis and treatment for HIV/AIDS and sexually-transmitted diseases and general medical treatments. In addition, the hospital serves as a teaching hospital, training an entire generation of nurses and midwives qualified to provide reproductive healthcare throughout the country and serving as a medical research center, with a special attention paid to the health problems associated with female genital mutilationRead a Study of FGM in Somaliland.
On the specific question of recognition of Somaliland independence, Dr. Pham quotes from a report by the African Union.
The official report of an AU fact-finding mission to the republic in 2005 led by AU Deputy Chairperson Patrick Mazimhaka concluded: “The fact that the union between Somaliland and Somalia was never ratified and also malfunctioned when it went into action from 1960 to 1990, makes Somaliland’s search for recognition historically unique and self-justified in African political history. Objectively viewed, the case should not be linked to the notion of ‘opening a Pandora’s Box’. As such, the AU should find a special method of dealing with this outstanding case.”