Edna was invited to Geneva three weeks ago to address a TEDx conference where she spoke about Somaliland and the building of the Edna Hospital.
She described how important is the training of midwives to the goal of reducing high rates of maternal and infant mortality.
If Edna, beginning at the age of 60, in a war-ravaged and unrecognized country can accomplish her goal to build a hospital and use it to train midwives then anybody with determination can do the same elsewhere.
Edna’s goal is to train 1000 midwives and return them to their communities. Watch the video below:
See below for a video of the entire Every Woman Every Child conference, a United Nations webcast. Following an address by the U.N. Secretary General and several prime ministers, Edna was featured in the third panel Game Changers. You may skip ahead to 1:34 to hear from Edna.
The Every Woman Every Child Plenary event took place on Tuesday September 20, 2011, at the United Nations in New York City. The Plenary was hosted by the Secretary-General and dedicated to showcase contributions from Heads of State and Government and leaders from different stakeholder groups whose achievements in support of the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health have been significant throughout the year.
Christanne Amampour opened the Game Changers session by asking Edna to bring to the assembled her “unique perspective,” having worked on the ground to save women and children. Edna said that after retiring from a career at the World Health Organization, “I tried to put to practice what I had been preaching all of my life, so I went home and built a hospital.”
Edna continued, “Women are dying of causes that are so preventable, which a trained health worker could so easily have protected them from.” Midwives are trained for 18 months. Low-technology basic training, has prevented 3/4 of the deaths of women who otherwise would have died. Training of midwives is the cause Edna has concentrated most on. “If it can be done in the horn of Africa, if an old woman like me can do it then the world can do it even better. If we join hands and concentrate on training health workers in the 20 least-served countries I think we can go a long ways. We are ready to share our experience with others…. It doesn’t take rocket science to prevent a woman from dying of these type of causes.”
Numerous commitments and updates were announced at the event, including a $500 million initiative by Merck to reduce child mortality and a report by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on the commitment to double the percentage of births attended by a skilled health worker by 2015 in Bangladesh. WHO Director General Dr. Margaret Chan also announced the formation of the independent Expert Review Group, which will report on the results and resources related to the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health and on progress in implementing the recommendations of the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health.
“Originally intended to be a small, normal maternity facility…”
In this video, Edna Adan relates how the mission of the hospital expanded from the original goal of serving expectant mothers. More than 10,000 babies have now been born at the Edna Hospital. In addition, the hospital treats everything from snake bite to war wounds.
Turned out, there were not enough trained nurses, so the hospital took upon itself the task of training more.
Many women had extreme difficulty giving birth because of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and so the hospital educates the society to turn away from this traditional practice.
Above all, “Knowledge is the biggest gift.” Edna’s primary mission is to educate.
At a time when the world finds itself on an unsustainable course, facing an increasing number of complex challenges for which traditional approaches are no longer sufficient, innovation stands as a key to addressing many of the issues confronting us today. During this session, experts in the field will discuss the importance of innovation as a vehicle for building a sustainable future. Where does innovation begin? What should be the role of government in promoting and facilitating innovation? Which countries are leading the charge, and how do you best position yourself and your organization to take advantage? This panel will provide a broad introduction to innovation, various approaches to cultivate it, and implications for those who pursue it and those who don’t.
You are able to skip ahead – Edna is introduced at about the 37-minute mark:
Edna gives a real nice little speech about determination in difficult circumstances at about the 1:02 mark.
At 1:16 she begins discussing the causes of high rates of maternal mortality, leading into an assertion that the most important thing anybody can do to show support for women is to support greater educational opportunities.
At 1:24 Edna speaks about how Somaliland’s success is representative of what a people can do with limited resources if they have sufficient resolve to improve their circumstances.