Partnership promotes a healthier prognosis in post-war Somaliland
Set up in 2000, the King’s Somaliland Partnership has worked to strengthen the healthcare system in the young democracy by bringing health professionals and institutions in the UK and Somaliland together.
The partnership is run from the King’s Centre for Global Health in London and draws on the clinical, educational and research excellence of leading NHS hospital trusts and the university.
Somaliland is emerging from a conflict that ended 25 years ago. It has some of the world’s worst health indicators and a troubled healthcare system. When the first expert volunteers visited in 2000, there were no medical schools, no regulatory body, only one nursing training course and few hospitals. There was also no psychiatry in the medical school curriculum. Since then, the partnership has grown into an organisation with more than 150 expert volunteers across 11 specialty areas, working with 13 key Somaliland institutions and reaching hundreds of health workers and students annually.
There is an emphasis on sustainability and working towards a point when the volunteers will one day no longer be needed.
Roxanne Keynejad became involved with the Somaliland partnership in 2009 as a graduate-entry medical student at King’s and is still involved today as a mental health lead.
“It’s really valuable that we, in some way, contribute to strengthening health professions education in countries that have lost health workers because many of them left after the civil war,” she explains.
Roxanne now supervises a medical student and junior doctor, who have built upon the “Aqoon” student peer-to-peer partnership which she cofounded eight years ago, using the MedicineAfrica website. She says: “To see that [the project] is still happening, it’s been improved and bettered by medical students coming after me and that the partnership has evolved and is now focusing more on health professions education is all wonderful to see.”