Edna Adan University

Faculty of Agriculture & Veterinary

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International Students studying at Edna Adan University.

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In March 2022, we were honoured to train 34 healthcare workers in Hargeisa, Somaliland. Here, our CEO Elly Nott shares how this HEST course came to fruition and how it marks the beginning of a special relationship with a very special hospital.

Over Christmas, I came across a book. ‘A Woman of Firsts’ is Edna Adan Ismail’s inspiring story of how she became a pioneering political and global health leader and campaigner for women’s rights. The respect and affection in which she is held in her home country, Somaliland, is truly remarkable and witnessed wherever one goes with her.

Building an empire

In 1998, she began building a hospital on an empty patch of land in the capital of Somaliland, Hargeisa. Through her will and determination, the foundations Edna established became a maternity hospital, which has since diversified into a major referral institution.

The Edna Adan Hospital treats obstetric, paediatric, surgical and medical cases from across the Horn of Africa. The Edna Adan University provides skilled healthcare workers to work in the hospital and other institutions in Somaliland, consistently occupying the top of the teaching league tables.

When I contacted Edna and asked if she would be interested in us running a HEST course at her hospital, she welcomed the idea straight away.

From the moment we arrived in Somaliland, we felt the warmth of Edna’s hospitality and all the inspirational healthcare workers who had travelled from across the country to participate in our training. Our outstanding faculty enjoyed sharing knowledge and techniques that would make a real difference to the participants’ management of traumatic injuries.

A need for well-trained surgeons

There is a real need for our partnership. A 2020 paper for the Lancet written by Dr Shukri Dahir et al, concluded that ‘the surgical system in Somaliland did not reach any of the target indicator goals as defined by LCoGS’ [Lancet Commission on Global Surgery]. The greatest need was for protection against catastrophic expenditure for low-income families on medical care and access to well-trained surgeons, anaesthetists and obstetricians.

The HEST course was just the start of our collaboration. In the coming months, we will welcome the doctors we met to the UK for our next Train the Trainers course. This time, they will teach alongside our UK-based faculty. We will also continue to work with the dedicated healthcare workers of Somaliland to support their training and ensure local people have access to safe, skilled surgical care.

By chance, our course coincided with International Women’s Day (IWD). A solid third of the participants in this HEST course were women and we were delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to their surgical careers. To spend IWD 2022 in the company of Edna, and the healthcare workers she has inspired and mentored, was truly an honour.

A lasting legacy in hospitals across Somaliland

March 28, 2022

|In Blog, HEST


Michael Odesoji, Surgical Nurse at St Mary’s Hospital, attended his first HEST course as Nurse Lead in Hargeisa, Somaliland. Here, Michael shares the importance of surgical nursing for improving patient safety, and how his training will make an impact right across the country.

Hargeisa was my first mission with the Foundation as Nurse Lead – and it was amazing. We trained 34 healthcare workers at the Edna Adan Hospital in Hargeisa, Somaliland.

Following David Nott’s ethos, it’s important to ask healthcare workers what they need, rather than deciding for them. Imposing knowledge without insight isn’t useful. Some of the topics the participants wanted to cover included how to form a safety checklist for surgery, emotional preparation of patients for operations, and maintaining good antiseptic techniques in the operating theatre.

With Mubarak, the Nurse Anaesthetist at Edna Adan Hospital, I led an interactive session on the importance of the surgical safety checklist for both the multidisciplinary surgical team and the patients. It resonated really well with the participants and the hospital’s surgical theatre staff.

Making a big impact

I then helped to design a bespoke surgical safety checklist for the hospital, which suited the cultural environment of Somaliland, using the WHO surgical safety checklist template. The checklist was implemented and put into use in the operating theatre before the end of the course, which was incredible to see.

Mubarak took it upon himself to champion its continued use, as well as ensuring it is implemented in every hospital in Somaliland. This was fantastic to hear, as it will further enhance patients’ safety and reduce avoidable mistakes in operating theatres across the region.

HEST in Hargeisa

I also organised a neonatal resuscitation session with the midwives and ward nurses, alongside Faculty Member, Dr Jeanne Frossard. The whole team were awesome and worked tirelessly to deliver the best possible experience for every trainee.

It was so exciting to see that the course was making a big impact in such a short period.

Moments to remember

Edna Adan Ismail, a passionate advocate for women’s health and Founder of the Edna Adan Hospital 20 years ago, was a force of nature and very welcoming. One of my best memories of the trip was when Edna and the hospital team organised a surprise birthday party for me, which was very thoughtful.

My first David Nott Foundation mission as Nurse Lead was an incredible one – and gave me a real favour for the real impact of the charity’s mission. This trip was hopefully one of many.

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