IOM Provides Access to Primary Healthcare to Underserved Communities in Puntland and Somaliland

Between April and October 2016, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) implemented the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF)-funded project, titled, “Provision of Life-saving Primary Healthcare Services to the Drought Affected Populations”. The project was implemented as part of the CERF Rapid Response to the drought situation in northern Somalia which was exacerbated by the El Niño weather phenomenon. The intervention improved access to lifesaving emergency primary healthcare services, including provision of emergency and supplementary treatments for 47,048 beneficiaries in Puntland and Somaliland. To provide access to healthcare to underserved communities, the project supported mobile health clinics which paid multiple visits to remote villages.

Nimco Arab is one of the many beneficiaries of the mobile health clinic that visited the Lafta-Faraweyne village located in the Marodijex region of Somaliland.  The village, which lacks a healthcare center, was hard hit by the drought which exacerbated health concerns such as water related illnesses and malnutrition. A temporary clinic was set up by the project team in an accessible location for village residents, next to an empty school. All villagers in need were provided with access to a doctor or a midwife, who listened to their complaints, examined their conditions, provided them with consultations and medications if necessary.

Nimco brought her two-year-old son who had acute watery diarrhea (AWD) for two days prior to being seen by the doctor. Upon arrival at the clinic Nimco was pale and visibly worried. “There was an outbreak of diarrhea in our village affecting at least 14 children and one of them died because of it yesterday. Last night, I didn’t sleep at all since my child was having non-stop diarrhea and vomiting. I was worried he will die just like the other child who died yesterday because of diarrhea,” she explained to the clinic staff upon being asked the reason for her visit. Nimco and her son saw the doctor who urgently assessed the child’s condition and informed the mother that the child was severely dehydrated and needed intravenous fluid. The mother agreed to the treatment and the child was given the fluid and medications to help with the persistent vomiting.

Midwife Hoodo giving treatment prescribed by the doctor to the dehydrated child. © IOM / Abdikadir Ismail

After two hours of treatment the child gained energy and was able to speak. The doctor asked how the mother, who was previously very distraught, was feeling, to which she replied, “My child is able to speak to me for the first time since the last 8 hours which means he is getting better. Now I am confident that my child will survive unlike the child who died because of diarrhea. Thanks to IOM and the Ministry of Health for sending this team. I wish we could have such a team to stay in our village permanently.”

The medical team stayed in Lafta-Faraweyne village for one more day, providing medical treatment to over one hundred patients with different medical conditions including diarrhea and acute respiratory diseases. On the next day, the team gathered the community members and elders of the village to give them a health education session which included information on the prevention and treatment of diarrhea such as how to prepare and use Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS). In addition, the team distributed ORS and ‘Shuban Daweeye’, a local zinc tablet brand used for the treatment of diarrhea.

Written by Dr. Omar Abdikadir Ismail, Programme Assistant, Migration Health Division (MHD), IOM Somalia. Tel: +252 63 4702323, Email: