Information to the community
Members of SSRA inform about and discuss Somali issues with the Somali community living in Sweden, in mass media and in public meetings. Examples are several initiatives to inform about the consequences of the use of "qat" and other issues related to the lives of Somalis residing in Sweden. Another example is a recently published article in one of the national Swedish newspapers - Dagens Nyheter – with the title in English translation: “Time for urgent help - and long-term support to Somalia”. SSRA members were instrumental in preparing this article.
In 2016 a workshop on Child Rights and Child Development was held in Hargeisa, jointly organised by Amoud University and NAFIS, in collaboration with SSRA. A Somali born, Swedish child psychiatrist, DR Asia Ali, participated as a resource person on SSRA's invitation. Possible support activities in the field of child rights and development in Somalia/Somaliland are being explored by SSRA.
Dr Asia Ali at the workshop on Child Rights and Child Development
Research and training
For many years SSRA members have conducted research and training projects in different parts of Somalia/Somaliland. These include activities related to malaria, the rational use of drugs, sexually transmitted infections and female genital mutilation. A large number of doctors, nurses, and health managers have been reached in training programs. Some of these have been funded by Sida and channeled through WHOs programme for health support to Somalia.
Many encouraging developments have taken place in Somalia/Somaliland in recent years. New universities and professional associations are gradually being built up. Funded by ForumSyd, SSRA initiated activities to strengthen nursing/midwifery training in Somaliland, leading in 2010 to a Sida supported collaboration between the Dalarna University, Hargeisa University, Amoud University and the Somaliland Nurse Midwifery Association, SLNMA. This collaboration resulted in 2015 in 25 Masters Thesis for Somali nurse/midwifery students.
Graduation ceremony for the Masters training for nurses and midwives 2015
A current initiative is a Somali-Swedish Collaboration in Research for Health. This collaboration is between six Somali universities (two each from the south-central zone, Puntland and Somaliland), and five Swedish universities (Umeå, Uppsala, Karolinska, Lund and Dalarna). A joint conference and a workshop were organized in Umeå in 2014 and 2015 respectively, with the active participation of these 11 academic institutions and SSRA. Through their interactive research dialogue, the partners came to realize how the extended conflict and state fragility led to health system dilapidation characterized by poor health indicators, weak infrastructures, and the severe shortage of health workforce. The partners acknowledged the opportunity of generating the needed evidence through implementation research that could effectively contribute to capacity building and health system strengthening.
Accordingly, a one year online research training starting with 2-week intensive face-to-face course was organized in October 2016 in Hargeisa, Somaliland, bringing together 24 Somali participants from the six Somali universities and the three engaged ministries of health. The course focuses its teaching on the basics of epidemiological and qualitative design, analysis and interpretation. During the course, the trainees are guided on refining methodologies for their study projects to be implemented over a one year period. During the research training exercise, the commitments of the partner universities were consolidated, exemplified by the promised operational support by Somali universities, building of local research governance capacities and selection of local and Swedish mentors/supervisors for the different planned research projects. The course outcomes were highly promising, leading to enthusiasm amongst the tutors and course participants who envisioned a successful research partnership for the future.
The participants and the course administrators of the ToT-course in Research for better health.
With funding from Forum Syd, SSRA is currently supporting two community based health projects in Somaliland.
The first project gives support to the Network against Female Genital Mutilation in Somaliland (NAFIS). This is an umbrella organisation of 20 local NGOS aiming at the total elimination of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the country. NAFIS was established 2006 in Hargeisa to coordinate efforts among the different NGOs working with the same aim. The member organizations exert great efforts to contribute the ongoing fight against FGM. NAFIS network was formed upon seeing the magnitude of poor coordination and network, duplication of efforts and the impacts they had in the expected positive outcome.
SSRA received its first Forum Syd grant for NAFIS in 2011. This was used to set up a Support Centre at a maternity clinic in Hargeisa for women suffering from complications of FGM. They are offered treatment and counselling by midwifes trained by the project or referred to hospitals for more advanced surgery. The project is mobilizing the local community and collaborating with health authorities in policy development and legislation against FGM. New Forum Syd grants have made it possible for NAFIS to expand its activities in other regions of Somaliland with emphasis on outreach to remote areas. After a positive assessment of the project's performance, Forum Syd has extended its financial support up to 2019. Annika Johansson, social scientist and retired senior researcher from Karolinska Institutet, acts as the SSRA project coordinator.
The second project that is supported by the SSRA is a collaboration with the Amoud University College of Health Sciences in Boroma, Somaliland, and aims at the development of a model for community based services in the field of mental health as well as maternal and child health. This project started in 2012 and was initially supported by Forum Syd with two one-year grants within a special programme to engage the Somali Diaspora in the promotion of peace and development in Somalia. The project has performed very well and Forum Syd approved a continued three year grant, which makes it possible to extend the services to the whole region of Awdal. The project was initiated by Yakoub Aden Abdi, a senior psychiatrist and researcher at Karolinska Institutet, and he also has the responsibility as the SSRA coordinator for the project.