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Edna Adan Outpatients Hospital Somaliland ;

World Health Worker Week: Celebrating the King's Somaliland partnership

Hannah Burrows

Programme Manager, Somaliland, King's Global Health Partnerships

12 April 2021

Last week marked the ninth World Health Worker Week, an annual celebration of health workers at the heart of health systems around the world. In recognition of the vital role that health workers play in keeping their communities – and the world – safe, WHO have also designated 2021 the International Year of Health and Care Workers. The year-long campaign recognises the need to increase investment in health workers to ensure they are supported, protected, motivated and equipped to deliver the health care that we all rely on.

King’s Global Health Partnerships works with partners in Somaliland, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia to help strengthen the health workforce, through higher education and training for health professionals.

A unique partnership model for health system development

We bring together UK health workers and education specialists from the King’s community and beyond, to work with their counterparts in these countries. This partnership model enables us to leverage expertise, learning and best practice from the NHS and combine this with partners’ deep understanding of their contexts, to design evidence-based interventions that strengthen health systems. Investing in health workers' education, training and development, and supporting them to make the changes they want to see in their hospitals and universities, we seek to bring about lasting changes to the delivery of health care.

Somaliland Higher Professions Education course

Training Somaliland's next generation of doctors and nurses

In Somaliland, there are just 197 doctors, 1,256 nurses and 344 midwives serving the population of around 3.5 million.1  This falls far short of the WHO-recommended minimum threshold of 23 health workers per 10,000 population. 

Each year through the King's-Somaliland partnership, 45 UK health workers and educationalists deliver online, undergraduate courses in subjects including internal medicine, surgery, radiology, neurology, nursing, midwifery, research and communication skills. The courses address gaps in expertise amongst Somaliland teaching staff and provide students with increased opportunities for practical, case-based discussion. 

King's volunteers have also worked with partners in Somaliland to design a new national curriculum for medical students, and national standards for assessing medical, nursing and midwifery schools. These are crucial steps in standardising the quality of courses delivered to medical students and ensuring the curriculum aligns to the country’s population health needs; as well as strengthening regulation and quality oversight of courses provided by health faculties, in line with international standards. 

Strengthening Triage and Primary Trauma Care in Somaliland


Training healthworkers in trauma and emergency care Somaliland

King's recently worked with partners in Somaliland to improve emergency trauma care and surgical safety at Hargeisa Group Hospital (HGH), through the implementation of a triage system in the emergency department and clinical decision making tools to enable quick decisions on the severity of illness of a patient. A team of five specialists in trauma care from the UK and Kenya trained 52 frontline health workers in the delivery of emergency care with only basic equipment. Twenty-six of these were trained as instructors who have subsequently rolled out the training to a further 120 health workers.

A mutual exchange that benefits Somaliland and UK health workers

Involvement in the project has benefits beyond Somaliland. There is widespread evidence of the personal and professional benefits of volunteering. Recent evidence highlights that volunteers gain valuable skills and experience which they are able to take back into their UK places of work, including how to problem solve in a crisis, adapt to unfamiliar surroundings, make difficult decisions in high-stress situations, maximise impact in low-capacity and low-resource settings, and identify opportunities for frugal innovation.

Somaliland's national health workforce survey from 2015

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