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Somaliland Launches its first Health and Demographic Survey

A new report jointly launched today by the Minister of Planning and National Development Hon. Hassan Mohamed Ali and the Minister of Health Development Hon. Omar Ali Abdillahi of Somaliland —titled the Somaliland Health and Demographic Survey (SLHDS) Report 2020—offers the decision makers and stakeholders vital information on the health and lives of Somaliland women and children.

A new report jointly launched today by the Minister of Planning and National Development Hon. Hassan Mohamed Ali and the Minister of Health Development Hon. Omar Ali Abdillahi of Somaliland —titled the Somaliland Health and Demographic Survey (SLHDS) Report 2020—offers the decision makers and stakeholders vital information on the health and lives of Somaliland women and children.

Data was collected from over 20,000 urban and rural households, as well as difficult-to-reach nomadic households, across the six regions.

The SLHDS report provides information on housing and household characteristics, health, education, marriage, fertility, birth spacing, employment, water and sanitation, health expenditure, chronic diseases, and children’s and women’s nutrition. It also offers information on married women’s knowledge of HIV/AIDS and attitudes towards people living with HIV, women’s empowerment, gender-based violence, FGM/C, and adult and maternal mortality.
The report reveals that gains have been made in important areas:

 

  • For the first time, Somaliland has an MMR indicator (396 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births).
  • Pregnant women who attended ANC at least four times increased from 15 percent in 20111 to 20 percent.
  • The health facility deliveries, have increased from 31 percent in 20112 to 33 percent.
  • Early marriage—known to deprive women of opportunities to reach their full potential—has reduced for women married by age 18, from 31 percent in 20113 to 23 percent.
  • About three out of four Somaliland households (71 percent) own simple mobile phones, and around one out of two nomadic households own simple mobile telephones with access to FM radio, opening doors to endless opportunities for these individuals.
  • Somaliland women are empowered to make financial choices—nine out of ten women decide on how their cash earnings will be spent, either individually or jointly with their husbands, and around six out of ten women of childbearing age use their phones for financial transactions.

In recognition of the efforts it took to bring the survey to fruition, Adam Abdelmoula, UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia/Somaliland, remarked, “It has been a pleasure for us to witness the Somaliland Government roll out a survey of this scale—that is a rich source of such diverse and crucial information. The SLHDS will help the international community to define and shape humanitarian and development strategies, and emergency responses so they are more effective.” The SLHDS report sheds light on areas that need intervention for women and children to lead better lives. The results show that around one in three births was delivered in a health facility (for births delivered in the five years preceding the survey), and an overwhelming majority of births—around seven out of ten—were delivered at home. Additionally, only four out of ten births were delivered with the assistance of a skilled health care provider and 52 percent of women did not make antenatal visits during their most recent pregnancy in the five years prior to the survey. According to Somaliland women aged 15-49, the reasons for their low uptake of health care during pregnancy and child delivery include the lack of money, long distances due to the lack of health facilities, reluctance of spouses to accompany women to the health facility and the need for Somaliland women to obtain permission from family members before seeking health services.

Somaliland government officials at the launch of the survey report in Hargeisa
Somaliland government officials at the launch of the survey report in Hargeisa


The SLHDS report further unveils that fertility rates remain relatively high—the total fertility rate for Somaliland is 5.7 children per woman—which would impact planning for the coming years. In addition, female circumcision is still widely practiced across the country—98 percent of women have been circumcised.

 

Although Somaliland communities are seen to be moving towards practising the Intermediate and mild Sunni forms of circumcision, survey results show that the severe Pharaonic form is still the most common form being practised, with over 60 percent of women having undergone this type of circumcision.

The survey highlights the need for support for nomadic populations in accessing health and other social services. For instance, births to women in urban areas are more likely to be protected against neonatal tetanus than births to women in nomadic areas, and more nomadic women delay antenatal care to the last trimester compared to women from urban and rural settings. Two percent of nomadic women reported they made their first ANC visit within the first four months, as compared to thirty two percent and sixteen percent of women in urban and rural households, respectively. “This is a game-changing survey for our country,” said Hon Hassan Mohamed Ali, Minister of Planning, and National Development, Government of Somaliland. “The data obtained and systems used will be useful to map out COVID-19 hotspots and respond swiftly to curb its spread, for instance. The SLHDS report also shows us more work needs to be done to bridge the gaps visible among Somaliland women and children, and particularly among men and women, and Somalilanders of different educational backgrounds, income levels and areas of residence.” “Every number presented in the findings of the report has a story behind it. For example, these numbers will guide us to address the barriers Somaliland women face in accessing health. We can ensure mothers feel safe while delivering their babies in Somaliland, young people have a better chance to make choices, particularly regarding reproductive health, and that children have better access to the right nutrition and vaccinations required to lead full and productive lives,” said Anders Thomsen, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Representative for Somalia/Somaliland.
Visit https://somalilandcsd.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/SLHDS2020-Report_20… to read The Somaliland Health and Demographic Survey (SLHDS) 2020 Report.

Note to editors:

The SLHDS was conducted over two phases, from 2018-2019. The first phase focused on listing households and obtaining information on maternal mortality. Information presented in the SLHDS apart from maternal mortality was collected during the second phase.

Information on nomadic populations was collected from temporary nomadic households, visited with support from nomadic link workers from local communities, who maintain social ties with nomadic communities.
The SLHDS was carried out by the Somaliland government, in collaboration with UNFPA. The survey was conducted with financial support from The Foreign Commonwealth Office for Development (FCDO) formerly DfID, The Government of Sweden, The Government of Finland,The Government of Italy, The Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) and The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

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