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A group of 20 community midwives graduated from Haji Abdi Midwifery School in Garowe, Puntland on 8 March 2017 as the world commemorated the International Women’s Day. The midwives completed a two-year long education programme to qualify them as community midwives with the aim to deploy them to rural areas to improve maternal health services in the country.

Representatives from the Ministry of Health, UNFPA, civil society, students and community members attended the graduation ceremony.

Director of the Primary Health Care Department of the Puntland Ministry of Health, Mr. Abdirizak Abshir Hersi, spoke about the importance of the role of midwives in ensuring the health of women and newborns and reducing the maternal mortality ratio.

Somalia has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. One out of every 22 women here dies due to pregnancy-related causes.

“It is noteworthy to mention that these students were selected from different villages and rural districts with a pre-condition that they return home and serve the community after their graduation. We aim to expand maternal health services to more rural areas and further decrease the gap in access to services between urban and rural areas,” said Mr. Hersi.

Chief of Programme Division/Operational Support & Quality Assurance Branch in UNFPA headquarters in New York, Dr. Farah Usmani, attended the event. She also emphasised on the importance of having qualified midwives.

“I am a gynecologist by training and I can attest that midwives are critical in saving the lives of women and newborns,” said Dr. Usmani.

She said it was significant that the graduation ceremony was being held on International Women’s Day.  The day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women.

Head of UNFPA Garowe office Dr. Bakhtior Kadirov stressed UNFPA’s commitment to improving midwifery in Somalia. He mentioned some of the efforts in this regard including the introduction of a new midwifery curriculum which meets the standards set by the International Confederation of Midwives, the continuing support to midwifery schools and the piloting of performance based payment system for midwives operating in rural areas.

The graduation at Haji Abdi Midwifery School comes after another group of 20 midwives graduated from Bosaso University of Health Sciences on 20 February 2017 bringing the total number of graduates from UNFPA-supported midwifery training programme in Puntland to 40 in this year alone.

Ms. Amina Isman Ali who spoke on behalf of the newly graduates encouraged her fellow midwives to place medical ethics at the heart of every service they provide and to continue their midwifery education beyond their current levels.


– Abdisalam Bahwal



For more information please contact UNFPA Somalia Communications Specialist Pilirani Semu-Banda on e-mail: