Wednesday October 6, 2021
Mogadishu (HOL) - Ibrahim Ali Ma'ow's kidneys failed to work normally 14 years ago, forcing him to start a weekly dialysis session. Back then, he lived in Saudi Arabia, where the service was available to him for free. Now, he is in Mogadishu, where he gets the same at Daru-Salam hospital, which provides this service through the financial support of the Hormuud Salaam Foundation.
The elderly man had never imagined receiving such a service in Somalia at no cost, hence his decision to relocate to Kenya, where he lived for a year. Still, due to his family's financial challenges, he could not sustain himself to stay and therefore returned to Mogadishu.
"I never envisioned accessing dialysis medication in Mogadishu and lost hope of life when returning to my home country. It was indeed painful and emotional. But thanks to the free dialysis service at the Daru-Salam hospital, my health situation is very good, and I go to work and manage my life normally," said Ma'ow.
Besides receiving free dialysis medication, the patients also get health and diet counselling to help maintain their health situation.
"In addition to the dialysis support, I also receive health guidance which is sometimes more important to us than medicine. We are sensitized on a diet, and the types of foods patients with renal complications should take; we are also given advice on water intake, walk, sleep and ways to make quick communication with the hospital in the event of health emergencies."
Access to dialysis treatment enables kidney patients to live with their complications, hence the importance of such service in medical centres.
Funded by Hormuud Telecom and Salaam Somali Bank, the Hormuud Salaam Foundation offers to pay the dialysis expenses for many kidney patients unable to cater for their medical expenses. The less fortunate patients in need of this essential service cannot afford to pay dialysis medication, with each session costing up to US $35.
Hospitals in the country with dialysis facilities are few, with the number of patients with kidney complications is on the rise.
Dr. Mohamed Yusuf, who has been working in the country for the last 30 years, hailed Hormuud's dialysis support as a life-saver which instils hope in thousands of people whose lives would have been otherwise in danger had it not been the existence of this service in the country.
"The understanding that such a critical need existed and seeking to address it by donating funds to save patients is a big issue that has a hugely positive effect on our society," said Dr. Yusuf.
Daru Salaam Hospital can handle at least 30 kidney patients at a time, and Hormuud Salaam Foundation covers the expenses incurred by the patients arriving at this hospital.
No official statistics have been commissioned to discover the exact number of patients needing this service in the country. Still, the health experts have raised the alarm over the mounting number of kidney patients requiring dialysis treatment. The doctors decried the lack of awareness of the society on this trend.
54-year-old Mohamud Sheikh Abdullahi comes from a low-income family and has been treated at this hospital for a year, undergoing dialysis sessions twice a week. The treatment significantly improved his situation.
His doctors informed his family that Abdullahi should raise an estimate of US $3,500 to cover his dialysis expenses every year, a process that he should have to go through for the rest of his life to treat his kidney condition. Since he and his family could afford to cover this cost, they were very concerned.
"For medical conditions that can be cured once, one can approach his friends and relatives for one-time fundraising, but it is tough to get consistent financial support from relatives during this difficult period. I, therefore, express my deep gratitude to the foundation and everyone who made this support possible," said Mohamed.
Hormuud Salaam Foundation, which also provides support in education, health and social affairs, considers this philanthropist programme as a social responsibility to assist members of the society who are in need since the health services in the country are constrained and are mostly privately-owned facilities.
The Foundation's Director, Abdullahi Osman, said the primary purpose behind the establishment of this organization was to extend a helping hand to the Somali people, hence focusing on essential needs of the society.
"Our country has been in turmoil for many years, and as a result, all the essential infrastructures collapsed. Therefore, we should help one another and not only wait for support from outside."
The programme was initiated after an increase in the number of needy patients unable to pay for dialysis exercises was observed and after the Foundation received numerous support requests from medical practitioners in the country.
"Local hospitals, doctors and patients reached out to us requesting for help in this area as many patients whose lives could have been saved were dying due to lack of dialysis treatment, resulting in our swift resolve to respond to the calls," said Director of the Hormuud-Salaam Foundation, Abdullahi Osman. "The programme is still in its initial stage, and we plan to expand it in the future," he added.
Following the collapse of the Somali government in 1991, the health sector was severely affected, resulting in the absence of free health services for the public. While government-run hospitals have re-emerged, the facilities are still struggling to cover the people's basic health needs.
Such philanthropist efforts provided by the local private companies can have a substantial positive impact on the recovery of the health institutions and provision of essential health services to the needy members of the society.