Women’s health champion advocates for quality reproductive health services in Somalia
Mogadishu - Maternal healthcare advocate Dr. Sumaya Elmi Duhulow, an Obstetrician/Gynecologist, is the brain behind one of Somalia’s foremost and exclusive reproductive health facilities.
Located in Mogadishu’s Yaaqshid district, Daryeel Dumar Hospital, which loosely means “Women Care”, opened its doors to the public in August.
“The idea behind this hospital, was to find a place where women can get services provided by only female doctors and nurses,” explains Dr. Sumaya, who partnered with two midwives to establish the hospital. She adds that they decided to set up the facility out of a need to reduce the high maternal death rates in Somalia.
The hospital offers maternity, pre- and post-natal care, and serves as a one-stop facility for female patients. Launched two months ago, it is fulfilling the quest for an all female hospital, which was long sought after by women.
“We knew traditionally, women would prefer to be attended to by female doctors, to preserve their modesty, especially during delivery,” Dr. Sumaya remarks.
The facility has been a benefit to women in Mogadishu. Since becoming operational, Daryeel Dumar has registered a steady increase in hospital visits, especially among pregnant women and carries out an average of 14 safe deliveries per month. Dr. Sumaya says the hospital has contributed to a significant drop in maternal deaths.
Born 31 years ago in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to Somali parents, the single mother of three relocated to Somalia in 2003, where she studied Medicine and Surgery, and graduated from Banadir University in 2010.
She volunteer in the health sector soon after graduating. Her aim was to help improve conditions in her country’s health sector, which bore the brunt of two decades of civil war. She worked as a volunteer doctor at SOS Hospital in the capital for five years, before pursuing other opportunities.
“I have a passion to help others and that’s why I chose to study medicine,” says Dr. Sumaya, who also works as a part time Obstetrician and Gynecologist at the Mogadishu City Hospital and the University of Somalia Teaching Hospital.
Her passion to improve the reproductive health status of Somali women, has been her driving force and motivation. Dr. Sumaya says she is committed to continue practising medicine in her country.
A pioneer in the health sector, Dr. Sumaya believes each person has a role to play in transforming Somalia.
“The problems facing Somalia are multifaceted, but most affected sectors are health, education and security. I believe everyone has a role to play in normalizing the situation,” she noted.
The all-female hospital is a step in the right direction for Somalia, where women crave for similar services but still lack access to more facilities across the country, however, Dr. Sumaya encourages women to take up professional jobs to fill the existing gap.
“The advice I have for Somali young girls is to follow their dreams and strive to do whatever they aspire to, whether in skilled or professional careers,” she says. “Women need to be encouraged, motivated and sensitized”.