Institutionalizing Health Care Improvement through Temporary Returns of Somali Health Professionals (from 2008 and ongoing)
MIDA FINNSOM Health, or officially Institutionalizing Health Care Improvement through Temporary Returns of Somali Health Professionals has taken an innovative approach to rehabilitating the health system in Puntland and Somaliland, geographically in Northern Somalia. The Puntland project was implemented from 2008 to 2017 and the Somaliland project from 2008 and continuing.
The programme recruits Somali diaspora health practitioners, lab and other technicians, policy makers, administrators, and other management level staff based on specific needs identified by both the Somaliland and Puntland Ministries of Health, In total 103 experts have been recruited. Project participants are embedded within health facilities, training institutions, or Ministries of Health in the two regions with the intent of transferring skills and best practices to local staff. The projects phases have been all funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.
During the pilot phase (Phase I project, 2008–2010), IOM recruited and sent 22 diaspora experts of Finnish-Somali origin to selected locations in the two zones on short-term assignments. Phase II (2011–2014) supported longer-term assignments for 35 health care experts, some of which lasted almost two years.
In Phase III (2014–2017), the MIDA FINNSOM Health strives to establish a well-functioning health workforce in both Somaliland and Puntland. The aim is to better equip the public health systems in both regions to provide quality services to the general population. The project builds on the progress achieved with Phases I and II and was designed to align with the strategic plans for the health sector in both Somaliland and Puntland.
The project built upon the lessons learned the previous phases and had an emphasis on sustainable transfer of skills, that is to ensure that local staff and structures are to the extent possible independent and well maintained even upon completion of the project.
To allow adequate time for efficient skills transfer, IOM recruited in total 46 diaspora health professionals for assignments with a duration of 9-24 months. The aim was to contribute to improving both the institutional as well as individual capacity building of public sector health services. Through the training of trainers (ToT), the diaspora experts were equipped with enhanced teaching and coaching skills, enabling them to transfer their skills and knowledge more efficiently to local staff and students in host and training institutions.
MIDA FINNSOM Health has accopmlished several success stories and achievements. In Somaliland, a neonatal unit was established at Hargeisa Group Hospital (HGH) to address the high number of infant mortality. Due to establishing the neonatal unit, training the local staff members on live-saving methods and keeping the delivery ward open 24 hours a day, the percentage of infant mortality at the hospital dropped from a monthly 24% down to 5%. This success story was transferred to Puntland and Garowe General Hospital by assisting the hospital to establish a neonatal unit. A similar trend in decreasing mortality rates is witnessed there as well.
The MIDA FINNSOM Health-project has also successfully established and supported the dental unit as well as a haemodialysis unit at Hargeisa Group Hospital. Support has been provided to health sector training institutions, most importantly to Hargeisa Institute of Health Sciences. Thanks to the contributions of the project, the local staff members have benefitted from high level trainings and improved performance as well as improved management of the local institutions.
Phase IV of MIDA FINNSOM Health is being implemented and contributes to the regional development of health sector in Somaliland.