Photo: Tatu Hiltunen

Better mother and child healthcare saves lives

Somalia, Somaliland and Puntland are some of the most dangerous areas to give birthThe situation and health of mothers can be improved by developing the maternal health services and their quality. 

The quality and resources of maternal health services in Somalia, Somaliland and Puntland are often inadequate and especially in the more remote areas there might not be trained help available at all. Unicef has estimated that in the project areas in Somaliland and Puntland around 60 per cent of mothers give birth without any trained professional present. Doubtful attitudes also exist among families towards antenatal checkups and giving birth at mother and child health centers or hospitals.  

The child mortality rate is alarmingly high as every 7th child will perish before their fifth birthday. Of every 100 000 women that give birth, 700 will lose their lives. Women’s health is also affected by drought, lack of food and drinkable water, scarcity of proper sanitary services and general health services.

High maternal mortality is closely linked to many other development challenges. In addition to the economical and psychological difficulties that the families face, girls who have lost their mothers are much more likely to marry too young and not get an education. This in turn, affects maternal mortality rate, as very young mothers are at higher risk to lose their lives while giving birth.

Most significant reasons behind maternal mortality are the complications during pregnancy and childbirth. These could be prevented by adequate antenatal follow-up and quality maternal health services. Childrens’ illnesses, such as diarrhea, anemia and malnourishment, are also not treated sufficiently.

These are the challenges the Hiil Hooyo project was created to address.

Photo: Tatu Hiltunen

The overall objective of the project is to lower the high maternal mortality rate and to promote human rights by improving maternal health and the access of persons with disabilities to healthcare. In-service training on maternal and child health is offered for healthcare professionals. During the project an online course of 15 credits was created in cooperation with Finnish universities of applied sciences and it is offered for healthcare students in three local universities. The course includes study modules e.g. on antenatal health, diagnostics, breastfeeding, prevention of female genital mutilation, children’s growth and development as well as the rights of mothers and children with disabilities.

The increased professional skills and motivation of the healthcare personnel together with the awareness raising work in the communities increases the awareness in the communities on how important antenatal healthcare and safe hospital births are. Also the facilities and equipment at maternal health services will be improved, as they are often very inadequate in the project areas.

Results from our work

During the project years 2017–2020

  • 225 healthcare workers from mother and child health centers completed in-service training.
  • 3 universities in the project areas offered their midwife and nursing students the online course on mother and child health that was created in cooperation with Finnish universities of applied sciences Diak and XAMK.
  • 134 midwife and nursing students in these universities passed the online course.
  • Knowledge on maternal health and the importance of ante- and postnatal healthcare and the presence of professional help in deliveries was increased through radio, television and poster campaigns. In total the campaigns reached over 1 million people.
  • 6 800 secondary school students received information on hygiene and sexual and reproductive health through school visits.
  • The status of the persons with disabilities in maternal health services has improved by including the rights and needs of the persons with disabilities as a topic in the in-service training of healthcare workers and the online course for healthcare students.
  • The accessibility of six mother and child health centers was improved by building ramps and providing wheelchairs for the centers.




Training for healthcare professionals and students. Communities’ consciousness about the importance of antenatal care will be enhanced through media campaigning. The equal rights of persons with disabilities to heath services will be promoted. 


Somaliland and Puntland


Hiil Hooyo project was launched in 2017 and will continue until the end of 2022.

For whom?

Beneficiaries are all the people who live in the project areas, 100 000 of whom are pregnant women or women in a fertile age. Around 1000 persons with disabilities and their families.

With whom?

Hiil Hooyo is a joint project of the Finnish Somalia Network, three Finnish civil society organizations, three partner organizations in the project areas, two Finnish universities of applied sciences and three local universities. The coordinating organization is Finnish Somalia Network. 

The partners in Finland are: Puntland Society of Finland (PSF), Sahan International Relief Association (Sahan) and  Somaliland Seura (SLS).

The local partners in project areas are: Dumar, Aayatiin Development  Foundation (Aayatiin) and Hope Org. 

The project collaborates with Finnish universities of applied sciences Diak UAS and XAMK UAS.In Somaliland and Puntland the project collaborates with East African University, Nugaal University and Amoud University.

Disability Partnership Finland offers expertise for disability issues for the project.

More information: 

Maiju Korpela
Project Manager

+358 44 777 9522
maiju.korpela (a)