BY KADAR MOHAMED
The provision of medical carein Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, is profoundly in the hands of the private sector. It is a typical example of private sector-led initiative. Presently, there are more than 52 private hospitals in the capital city, owned and operated by private companies or individuals. If the number is anything to go by, one would imagine that the provision of health care in the capital is well covered. That is not the case.
Many more investors are setting up newer health facilities targeting specialized medical needs. The local investors now focus on hospitals that are fully equipped with the most modern technology. They are recruiting qualified staff from all over the world. A good number of nurses and doctors are graduating from local universities, but they still need mentorship. The case involving a kidney patient called Ahmed, illustrates the contribution that the private sector in Somalia is making in addressing the needs of one of the key sectors of the economy. Ahmed was diagnosed with a Kidney problem two years ago.
At the time, he says, there were no facilities to care for his condition. He needed dialysis, and so he opted to relocate to Kenya. In January, this year, Ahmed heard that there was a facility that had just opened in the city centre of Mogadishu. He went back home, where he is now closer to his family while getting care for his condition. There are many people with similar stories as Ahmed’s, and they are pleased with the developments in the health sector. Even though, many more say they would like to see public facilities equally playing a key role and bring about affordability of health care to all.
According to Unicef Somalia, child and maternal mortality in the country are among the highest in the world. “One out of every 10 Somali children dies before seeing their first birthday,” Unicef reports. “While comprehensive information is not available, it is believed that the leading causes of infant and child mortality are illnesses such as pneumonia (24 per cent), diarrhoea (19 per cent), and measles (12 per cent), as well as neonatal disorders (17 per cent).” The health care scheme of the country has weakened over time due to political and economic changes. While the government’s institutional capacity is strengthening and security is improving, many private investors are now shifting their focus to quality and specialised care.
For Ahmed, this is good news. The money he would have spent travelling to Nairobi can now help him get dialysis in Mogadishu. Ahmed depends on his relatives to pay for his treatment, which costs about $1, 200 per week. The fee is extremely high, but Ahmed is happy that he is able to get the care in Mogadishu, his home town. Health care is not cheap in the city, and most have to struggle to pay for services. This boom of private hospitals in Mogadishu underlines the profitability of the sector. The concern now is affordability by the ordinary citizen.