Monday, September 10, 2018

Edna Adan

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Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

I only recently learned about the extraordinary Edna Adan of Hargeisa, Somaliland. 
Louis Werner wrote a powerful essay (photography and video by Lorraine Chittock) about her in Aramco World (July-August 2018).  Adan is nothing short of remarkable and has an impressive resume.  

I hope the following comments based on Werner's article will lead you to read and view it.

The daughter of a doctor, Adan decided as a young girl, to pursue a medical career. This led her to London for training and upon her return she became Somaliland's first professional nurse-midwife.

Adan's long life, she is now 80 years-old, includes 30 years with the World Health Organization (WHO), two Somaliland ministerial positions--foreign minister and minister of family welfare and social development--and she was the force behind the construction of a maternity hospital and nursing school which bears her name (Edna Adan Hospital). It opened in 2002 with 25 beds but well before that she was training nurses and laboratory technicians (1,500 nurses, midwifes and lab-technicians). Adan is also among the nation's leaders against genital mutilation.

Beginning in 1961, Somaliland dissociated from Somalia. This led to a protracted civil war (~30 years and some half a million deaths) which not only leveled cities but also devastated the nation's health care professionals through death or departure. The subsequent rehabilitation of health services has been slow. Furthermore, traditional superstition and misinformation about health care have exerted a powerful influence on changes in health care (infant birth mortality, while falling) is almost double the global average.

Werner's essay includes stories of other women who are engaged in helping Somaliland achieve a new post-war identify, a map of the horn of Afirca to orient readers) and a short film by photographer 
Lorraine Chittock about Adan. 
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Werner ends by quoting a young midwife-in-training who by now must have attended her first birth. This trainee says "I want to see that happy moment when everyone is relieved, the baby is healthy, the mother is tired, and all of us are together helping." 

She sounds like a perfect candidate for the midwife-in-training candidate.

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