Somalia: UN Provides Health Services and Supportive Programmes to Adolescents Girls

With the emergence and spread of COVID-19 across the world, social, political and economic activities came to a standstill in many countries, including Somalia.

The implementation of movement restrictions, meant that people had to stay at home round the clock. The restrictions have notably increased incidences of gender-based violence (GBV) against women and girls, as well as limited their access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and information, normally available to women and adolescent girls in Somalia.

For the past two years, Somalia has not only experienced the COVID-19 pandemic, but also other emergency shocks, such as droughts, floods and desert locust invasion, immensely affecting crop and agriculture. Children, girls and women are bearing the brunt of these humanitarian emergencies.

Despite the existence of mother and child health (MCH) care facilities in almost all districts in Banadir region, many women and adolescent girls in the region do not have access to quality reproductive health information, education or care.

Reproductive health packages remain a major health gap in service provision. Furthermore, poverty, cultural and social norms have prevented young girls from accessing appropriate menstrual supplies and safe spaces. A lack of adequate menstrual hygiene and commodities are a major stumbling block for realizing effective menstrual hygiene.

During UNFPA-supported sessions on sanitary pads distribution, it became clear that young girls continue to use unhygienic materials, potentially increasing urogenital symptoms and infection.

In Banadir region, despite the presence of MCH care facilities, the lack of appropriate menstrual hygiene information among young girls and women was evident.

With support from UNFPA, Mercy-USA has set up youth spaces in Kahda district, in Banadir region, in which vocational skills training and SRH services and information are offered to youth and adolescents between 15 – 24 years of age.

“The youth centers are instrumental in providing opportunities for young girls and women to receive SRH services and information. We are looking into supporting more youth spaces in strategic locations, e.g. within universities and downtown where young people can access and receive necessary services.

The centers have youth-friendly clinics providing SRH information, counselling and HIV Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) and helping young people overcome barriers to access SRH services,” says Abdihakim Abdullahi, Programme Officer, Adolescent & Youth UNFPA Somalia.