Exploring Somali women’s Reproductive health knowledge and experiences: results from focus group discussions in Mogadishu

Authors: Faduma Gure, Marian Yusuf, Angel M.Foster; Productive health Matters, 2015-

Abstract: With a total fertility ratio of 6.7 children per woman, a maternal mortality ratio over 1,000 deaths per 100,000 live births, high rates of sexual and gender-based violence, and the lowest contraceptive prevalence rate in the world, women’s reproductive health indices in Somalia prove alarming. The voices of women living in Somalia have long been neglected and we undertook this qualitative study to explore women’s reproductive health knowledge and experiences. In 2014, we conducted four focus group discussions with 21 married and unmarried women of reproductive age living in Mogadishu, Somalia. Discussions took place in Somali and we used a constant comparative approach to analyse the discussions for content and themes. Our findings reveal that misinformation, restrictive policies, mistrust of clinicians, and prohibitively expensive services shape women’s experiences and health-seeking behaviours. Women identified the need for culturally resonant reproductive health information and services as a significant priority. As Somalia begins to emerge from over two decades of civil war, it is imperative that comprehensive reproductive health issues are included on the national agenda and that women’s perspectives are incorporated into future policies and interventions.

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