Badhan:- When Little Gifts Go a long Way
Friday January 20, 2017 - 03:39:16 in News In English by Super Admin
On May 10, 2014, a significant medical accomplishment took place in a town called Badhan that is located in the Northeast of Somalia. On that day, the first Cesarean operation in the region was successfully performed at the Badhan Community Hospital.
A Cesarean operation hardly raises an eyebrow. The World Health Organization reports that 18.5 million of them are performed every year. But Badhan and its environs are not the rest of the world. The Cesarean operation augured a consequential improvement in healthcare availability and a significant improvement in health outcomes for women and children.
The town of Badhan and its surrounding villages are home to a population approximated at around fifteen thousand. For centuries, area residents prospered by engaging in a profitable trade with their neighbors on the Arabian side of the red sea. Residents exported Frankincense and livestock and imported clothing and foodstuffs that they traded to the residents of the interior of the country. A twenty-two-year economic embargo imposed in 1969 by the former Somali government completely wiped out the areas centuries’ long thriving export/import trade, and when Somalia’s central government collapsed in 1991, the area was in a decidedly much worse shape than it was in 1960 when Somalia gained independence. There were no paved roads in the region, no factories, no institutions of higher learning and only one high school. Badhan community hospital was the sole healthcare facility in the region. The central government built the hospital in 1977, but the facility was equipped with neither the equipment nor the personnel to make it function as a hospital. The facility was closed in 1991 when Somalia’s central government collapsed. Community leaders attempted to reopen it numerous times but without much success.
In the winter of 2009, Asha Ahmed, a native who had immigrated to Canada went back home. One of her travels took her 68 miles southeast to Bosaso, the capital of Somalia’s Eastern region. On paved roads, it takes about an hour to cover 68 miles, but because of barely passable roads, the Journey from Badhan to Bosaso takes more than eight hours. Throughout the tedious journey on the bed of a lorry, a five-month-old girl was incessantly crying while her grandmother clutched her tightly. One of the passengers asked the elderly lady as to what was ailing the child. The grandmother replied that the family thought that an ear infection was the cause of the child’s pain and added that she was taking the child to a doctor in Bosaso.
The incessant, plaintiff cry of the sick infant left an indelible imprint in Asha’s mind. While she was well aware of the area resident’s difficulties in obtaining medical care, the child’s distressing condition crystallized for her the necessity for immediate action in addressing the communities’ healthcare needs.
Upon returning to Canada, Asha embarked on a campaign to reopen the Badhan hospital. She traveled throughout Canada and held informational cum fundraising meetings with the large Somali immigrant community that settled in Canada in the mid-1990s. She also reached out to Somali immigrants in the United States, England and the rest of Europe. That first campaign netted $5,000.
Asha returned to Somalia at the end of 2009 via the United Arab Emirates. While sojourning at Emirates, she continued to spread the gospel about the Badhan Hospital. Moved by her presentations, a family from Dubai donated $5,000.00 to rehabilitate the hospital building and also offered $3,000.00/month toward the salaries of a Doctor and other hospital staff. Asha returned to Somalia armed with $10,000.00 and with the help of the community leaders began work on rebuilding the hospital.
Local volunteers donated sweat equity and with the donated money she was able to purchase needed supplies to complete a unisex inpatient facility, exam room and few offices.
Badhan Hospital was reopened on 3/1/2010 to a great fanfare with a staff of 24 including a Doctor, 2 nurses, four nurse aids, treasurer and a manager. Separate inpatient units for women, children, men, an x-ray room, emergency unit building, water storage tank, a lounge for the nursing staff and outpatient units have been added in the last three years. These expansions were made possible by donations ranging from $5.0 to $50.0 from around the world, including donations from Custodians from Minnesota, taxi drivers in Canada, a nurse and a custodian in Connecticut, Truck drives from Washington, white color professionals from Massachusetts, retired individuals from all corners of the world, housewives from England, day laborers from Australia, a generous family from the United Arab Emirates, business persons in the Gulf states and so many others. Volunteers doggedly undertook a fundraising campaign using every possible means of reaching probable donors- telephones, emails, home visits, using friends and relatives as conduits. An Elderly gentleman in Minneapolis, MN, became so associated with the hospital effort the story goes that some people attempt to avoid him at any cost, including changing telephone numbers, or abandoning streets when they see him coming.
In July of 2014, a second doctor, an OBGYN, was added to hospital’s staff. The addition of another doctor, especially an OBGYN, was a significant progress for the community. Prior to the OBGYN’s hiring, women that developed complications while giving birth were placed in an ambulance for a journey of 8 hours or more on unpaved roads to the nearest town hospital with an OBGYN. Area women do not face this ordeal anymore; from July to December 2014, seven Cesarean operations have been successfully performed at the hospital.
The story of the Badhan community is also a testament to the ravaging effects of anarchy on Somalia. Since the collapse of Somali’s central government in 1990, the struggle for resources which in part led to the downfall of the government has intensified among the Somali communities, and smaller communities have been completely left out of the equation with regards to the meager development funds that currently trickle to Somalia.
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