Training reproductive health professionals in a post-conflict environment: exploring medical, nursing, and midwifery education in Mogadishu, Somalia

Abdiasis Yalahow, Mariam Hassan, Angel MFoster
Following two decades of civil war, Somalia recently entered the post-conflict rebuilding phase that has resulted in the rapid proliferation of higher education institutions. Given the high maternal mortality ratio, the federal government has identified the reproductive health education of health service professionals as apriority.Yet little is known about the coverage of contraception, abortion, pregnancy, childbirth, and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in medicine, nursing, or midwifery. In 2016, we conducted a multi-methods study to understand the reproductive health education and training landscape and identify avenues by which development of the next generation of health service professionals could be improved. Our study comprised two components: interviews with 20 key informants and 7 focus group discussions (FGDs) with 48 physicians, nurses, midwives, and medical students. Using the transcripts, memos, and field notes, we employed a multi-phased approach to analyse our data for content and themes. Our findings show that reproductive health education for medical and nursing students is inconsistent and significant content gaps, particularly in abortion and SGBV, exist. Students have few clinical training opportunities and the overarching challenges plaguing highereducation in Somalia also impact health professions programmes in Mogadishu. There is currently a window of opportunity to develop creative strategies to improve the breadth and  depth of evidence-based education and training, and multi-stakeholder engagement and the promotion of South– South exchanges appear warranted.

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