On Tuesday night 7:45pm February 19th, an event held at Hargeysa Cultural Centre assembled a group of professionals who discussed Adolescent Health in Somaliland.
This event took place with the help of joined young activists, different organization workers, health professionals and government officials. They spoke about how different factors such as income and education affect Adolescent Health and how they are interdependent on each other.
The event was not held only to inspire Somaliland youth to seek medical help when needed but also to highlight the lack of medical check-ups and counselling that are accessible for the youth. The guest speakers also touched on the importance of staying healthy and preventing diseases in the first place. Mohamed Dhamac, a member of Sonyo said “A common disease among youth is HIV/AIDS and a good way we have always prevented it is marriage”. Other guest speakers also suggested effective ways of avoiding or living with other types of diseases.
- Our first speaker was Abdiqani Abdilahi, who quickly spoke about the topic. He mentioned that adolescence period is ages 10-20 years. He also spoke about how there are a lot of mothers who lose their children to curable diseases because of not seeking a proper, professional help. “1 of 12 mothers die during child birth and it’s very high number,” he said.
- The next speaker was Mohamed Dhamac who as mentioned above spoke about the common diseases among youth nowadays. Dhamac spoke about general topics on the subject but he mainly focused on how much the development of the community depends on youth therefore their health should be improved. He discussed how if the youth stays healthy that it will lead to a healthy community.
- Our third speaker was Dr. Hamda Abdirahman, a Psychologist and a lecturer who spoke about the mental health of youth. The message she was sending is that, young people want to be heard. Because traditionally we (Somalis) do not consider children’s opinion that much which as a result can causes them to mentally suffer. She suggested that we talk to children about their opinion and personal problems so they won’t get depressed and end up becoming mentally ill which can actually cause them taking their own lives.
- Barkhad Hussein’s topic was the relationship between poverty and healthcare accessibility and he shared a touching story about a young boy who suffered from diabetes. He told us the boy’s journey from middle school to university and the obstacles he faced on the way. What was deeply sad about this story is the fact that the young boy struggled to pay for his medication and even taking them while in school. “Double Burden” is the term he used to describe the boy’s situation. Dr. Barkhad said, “This is how I will transmit my message, and it is for you to get the point out of it.”
- Mariam spoke last before the discussion group. Mariam asked the audience “where do you go when you need medical help?” Then she explored different options people normally have and what they do instead. Dr. Mariam highly recommended people to go to pharmacies or hospitals and seek counselors to maintain a good health.
Lastly the guest speakers had a discussion about two main issues;
- The fact that Somaliland Youth doesn’t have a special healthcare system.
- People/ government’s perspective of youth and the Psychology of adolescence.
The event lasted two hours and eighty-three people attended. The audience had a chance to ask questions in the end which the guest speakers answered to their best ability. The main idea behind this event was for people to hear and learn from each other then spread their ideas to the community especially to those it concerns. They concluded that Adolescent health needs special attention and raising public awareness of the issue. Achieving this would also improve not only youth’s well being but the economy and education of Somaliland.