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Amisom Health Clinics Treat Somalis in Areas Liberated From Al-Shabaab
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
by Abdi Said
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Mogadishu — In the past six months, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has set up eight health clinics and three hospitals in areas liberated from al-Shabaab, according to AMISOM spokesperson Colonel Ali Aden Humad.
The clinics are in several districts of Middle and Lower Shabelle regions, and the hospitals are in Beledweyne, Kismayo and Baidoa. They offer a full range of health services, Humad said.
"We have modern healthcare equipment, including laboratory equipment to diagnose common diseases, x-ray machines for bone injuries, machines to monitor high blood pressure and diabetes, and free medicine provided by highly qualified doctors," he told Sabahi.
AMISOM staffs the hospitals with two doctors and ten nurses each, to serve as many as 300 patients daily. The smaller health centres serve fewer patients, Humad said. Mobile health clinics also are up and running in rural villages.
AMISOM opened the centres after consulting with traditional elders, who informed them that healthcare was among the people's biggest needs. The operational costs come directly from the AMISOM budget.
The healthcare services help fulfil Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud's pledge to provide health aid to areas liberated from al-Shabaab, Humad said. "[AMISOM] will continue to provide these services until the government's capacity increases [and takes over the management]," he said.
Somalis have welcomed the return of relief agencies to areas formerly controlled by al-Shabaab, which denied aid organisations access and put vulnerable people at risk.
During the rainy season in March, AMISOM centres provided urgent medical treatment, previously unavailable, to 600 civilians affected by the cholera outbreak in Beledweyne.
The patients were transferred to two newly opened AMISOM health centres in El Jalle and received treatment right away, something that helped contain the spread of the disease, AMISOM medical team member Doctor Abdi Gedi Warfa told Sabahi.
Safiya Farah, a 34-year-old mother of five, said the El Jalle centres helped save two of her children.
"I realised that cholera was spreading and that I had nowhere to take my children, [but thankfully] we received assistance from AMISOM," she told Sabahi. "I never thought I could get such help from AMISOM troops. Now my children are all healthy and I am thankful to our brothers in AMISOM for the efforts they made on our behalf."
Mariam Hirsi, a 35-year-old mother of three in Lower Shabelle's Lego district, said the availability of health services have alleviated her anxiety over heath costs.
"Previously I used to worry a lot about the money I spent on health check-ups, but now, thanks to God, we found free health services for our children and God removed al-Shabaab from ruling over us," she told Sabahi.
Ali Yusuf, a 55-year-old traditional elder in Baidoa, said the health centres reflect AMISOM's desire to help the Somali people.
"During al-Shabaab's rule, residents of Baidoa were oppressed in multiple ways that threatened their lives and it was difficult for them to get free healthcare services," he told Sabahi. "But today, residents of Baidoa have come to understand who is advancing their interests and who is not."
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