Somaliland: Infant Mortality and FGM


By: SOPHAAwaiting services at an MCH in Baligubadle

Somalilandsun – Somaliland has a population of between 3.5 and 4 million people, and one of the world’s highest maternal, neonatal and infant mortality levels. Female genital mutilation is widespread, with a prevalence of around 99%.

According to the Somaliland Family Health Association-SOPHA the Country has one of the worst maternal mortality ratios in the world, estimated to be between 1,000 and 1,400 deaths per 100,000 live births. Women have a 1 in 15 risk of dying of maternal-related causes (National Health Policy, 2011).

Only 10% of married women aged 15-49 years use a contraceptive method, and only 32% of women aged 15-49 years receive antenatal care at least once by skilled personnel during pregnancy (Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, 2011).

Most Somaliland women have:

• Little to no reproductive health knowledge

• Insufficient antenatal and postnatal care

• Little access to, or knowledge of, child spacing solutions

Somaliland children also have one of the lowest chances of survival in the world and, unfortunately, many die of causes that could have been easily prevented.

The infant mortality rate in Somaliland is 72 deaths per 1,000 live births and under-five mortality rate 91 deaths per 1,000 live births. This means 1 in every 14 children die before reaching age one, and 1 in every 11 children do not survive to their fifth birthday (Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, 2011).


The Somaliland Family Health Association (SOFHA) is a national non-government, non-profit, and non-political organization that focuses on providing antenatal care and family planning services to Somaliland women.

Overview of services provided by SOFHA:

• Antenatal care

• Postnatal care

• Outreach

• Training

• Health promotion

• Immunizations

• Counseling

• Information and education

• Prescriptions

• Referrals

• Family training

SOFHA office

SOFHA was originally founded by Edna Adan Ismail in January 2009. Before becoming an independent organization all SOFHA activities were carried out at the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital in Hargeisa. SOFHA is now an independent and registered organization, though Edna remains on the SOFHA Board of Directors as President.

SOFHA was registered by the government in May 2009, and moved two years later to a private office in Half London, Hargeisa. We are the first registered family planning association in Somaliland, and are still the only family planning centre in the country.

SOFHA is also a member of, and funded by, International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), an international organization that provides sexual and reproductive health information and services globally.