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Somalia Listed as Worst Country for Maternal Health


The British aid group Save the Children ranks Somalia as the worst country on Earth for being a mother. The ranking is based on statistics for maternal health, child mortality, education and women’s income in Somalia.

Nearly 25 years of instability has seen Somalia’s health institutions collapse but the government and international partners hope to soon change this narrative.

Fadumo Abdulkadir lost her child shortly before birth. She is among the millions of women in Somalia who remain at great risk during childbirth.

In its latest report, "State of World Mothers," the aid group Save The Children has ranked Somalia at the bottom among the countries surveyed.

According to the United Nations Children's Agency UNICEF, maternal mortality rates for Somalia are among the highest in the world. One out of every ten Somali children dies before seeing its first birthday.

Somalia's Deputy Minister of Health, Osman Mohamed Abdi, said the government hopes to change the situation.

“Somalia is among the worst countries in the world for a mother. But the Ministry of Health with support from international partners like UNFPA will work hard to ensure that help is delivered to Somali mothers at the regional, district and village level," said Abdi.

It is believed that one out of every 12 women in Somalia dies due to pregnancy-related causes. Only nine percent of pregnant women in the country have access to skilled birth attendants.

The U.N. says the world has a massive midwife shortage, and says this is particularly dangerous for countries in crisis.

Recently, 23 new midwives graduated in Mogadishu at a ceremony that coincided with the International Day of the Midwife.

Both the Somali government and U.N. agencies see this as a positive step even though it does not come anywhere close to meeting the country's needs.

These new graduates will be deployed across the country to help women during childbirth and attend to their complications before and after the delivery. Grace Kyeyune is with the United Nations Population Fund.

“These 23 can only serve 2,300 women. But there are more women needing their support than before. We don’t want to get to a situation whereby we are saying it’s always too late. We know very well how many women are dying right now as we speak here because of giving life," said Kyeyune.

Conflict and poverty in Somalia have forced many of the country’s displaced women to give birth in makeshift camps.

With limited assistance during pregnancy and birth, there are likely to be more cases of death in childbirth. But Somali authorities say they're determined to take action to improve the situation.

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