Nemo Abdi Ahmed, age 20, left her remote village to attend the Midwifery Training School in Burao, Somaliland. A few years earlier, one of Nemo’s 17-year-old friends and a former classmate had died during childbirth.
“That’s one of the main reasons that I want to learn these life-saving skills,” Nemo said. “I want to prevent the deaths of mothers and children in my community. That’s why I want to be a midwife,” she added.
The common practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) causes additional complications during deliveries. “Circumcision creates problems,” Nemo says.
“The major problem is fistula, because the traditional birth attendants try to cut to increase the birth passage, but they don’t have the skills or the knowledge, and they don’t have the proper tools, which can cause great amounts of damage,” she continues, shaking her head.
The Midwifery Training Programme in Burao, Somaliland, which is supported by the Joint Health and Nutrition Programme (JHNP), is ensuring the midwives have the knowledge to not only treat the complications arising from FGM but also give them the skills to inform and educate Somali women about the effects of the practice in an effort to stop it from happening.
The JHNP is a multi-donor development programme, implemented by WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA, together with the Somali Health Authorities and supported by UKaid, Government of Sweden, Government of Finland, Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID).