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Finland’s support in Somalia strengthens maternal health during the coronavirus crisis

Ministry for Foreign Affairs 24.6.2020 14.30 | Published in English on 1.7.2020 at 7.02
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Finland will allocate EUR 3 million to the UN Population Fund UNFPA to safeguard sexual and reproductive health and rights in Somalia.

In recent months, the coronavirus situation has been the main focus of health care systems around the world. However, the pandemic has not eliminated the need for other health services and it has in fact exacerbated the situation for women and girls in the poorest countries.

“As with most crises, this pandemic has severely disrupted access to life-saving sexual and reproductive health services and hampered efforts to respond to gender-based violence, at a time when women and girls need these services most,” says Anders Thomsen, UNFPA’s Country Representative in Somalia.

Sexual and reproductive health includes, for example, services related to maternal health, contraception and family planning. UNFPA, which promotes availability to these services worldwide, is one of Finland’s most important UN partners. In Somalia, the organisation has, for example, trained midwives with the support of Finland.

 “In these times of crisis, we want to intensify our efforts, together with UNFPA and the government, to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity in Somalia,” says Erik Lundberg, Finland’s Ambassador to Somalia.

Long cooperation in the health sector

The funding now granted will increase Finland’s total contribution to UNFPA in Somalia to EUR 6 million in 2020.

UNFPA’s country programme will receive EUR 2 million of the additional funding while EUR 1 million will be channelled to UNFPA’s coronavirus response measures.  The funding will ensure the continuity of maternal health services in internally displaced persons settlements, for example. It will also be used to procure protective equipment and to strengthen national capacity for coronavirus testing.

Somalia is Finland’s long-term partner country for development cooperation. In addition to UNFPA, Finland has cooperated with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in the health sector. For instance, the maternity and childbirth wards at Hargeisa hospital have saved lives of newborn babies, with the mortality rate of children falling from 24% in 2014 to 5% in 2017. Over 700 health workers were trained with Finnish support during the same period.

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