This weekend, the issue of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) took centre stage on BBC1’s Call the Midwife. Millions of us watched Nadifa, a young mother, fight for her life due to complications caused by FGM.
I was privileged to have worked with the writers of Call the Midwife on this episode. While Nadifa’s story is fiction, her plight is the reality that millions of women across the world face.
In December, I travelled to Somaliland (where Nadifa from the Call the Midwife episode is from) to get a better understanding, and found that women there are still fighting for basic access to the resources needed to keep themselves safe.
FGM is almost universal in the region. While work to break the cycle is underway, many women are still living with the consequences of this harmful practice.
While in Somaliland, I met Hassan Ali, a young doctor who is on the front lines at Borama Regional Public Hospital. This young man and his colleagues are losing women and their babies principally due to blood loss - something Nadifa could have also passed away from if it had not been for the NHS.
UNICEF has reported Somaliland as having one of the worst maternal mortality rates in the world: 1,000 – 1,400 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, with an infant mortality rate of 73 per 1,000 births. The under-five mortality is approximately 117/1,000.
But with access to safe stocks of blood for transfusions, these figures can be halved. That is why I’m helping Hassan raise £10,000 to provide a basic blood bank to help him and his colleagues help more mums give birth and survive.
Any amount you can donate will help us in the fight for maternal health - and give women in Somaliland the #dropsofhope they need”.