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07-06-2012 | Africa

Somalia's war wounded


A new operating theatre has opened at Keysaney hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia to treat casualties of the conflict that has wracked the country for the past 20 years. The hospital is one of two main referral facilities in Somalia able to treat complex war wounds and serving all south central Somalia.

The operating theatre, officially inaugurated in February 2012, separates patients with septic and non-septic wounds, resulting in significantly fewer cross-infections. "We now have theatre A and theatre B", says Dr Ahmed, head surgeon at the hospital. "Theatre A is for the non-septic wounded and theatre B is for the unclean or septic wounded patients. Since using the new theatre, the number of cross-infections has reduced".

The new theatre was built by the International Committee of the Red Cross who, with the Somali Red Crescent Society, transformed an old prison into a hospital back in 1992. Before that time, the war-wounded needing surgery were brought into one hall, which acted as the operating theatre.

Keysaney hospital has been hit by artillery fire on many occasions. The new theatre, along with other hospital facilities, was struck by two mortar shells in January 2012, leaving cracks in the theatre walls as well as damaging water pipes and felling trees in the hospital compound, serving as a reminder of the dangers faced by health-care workers and patients in Mogadishu.

12 year old Abshir is recovering from injuries to his arms when he was caught in a shell explosion. "I was walking along the road. Some kids were playing with a shell and it blew up. It struck me on this side and the other side." The two children playing with the shell were both killed.

Keysaney is one of two ICRC supported surgical referral hospitals in Mogadishu. It accepts all patients regardless of their clan, religious or political affiliation. Staff treated nearly 2000 weapon-wounded patients in 2011.

Facts & Figures 2012 Keysaney Hospital

  • It is run by the Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS).
  • 2012 marks the 20th anniversary of the SRCS-run Keysaney Hospital, established and supported by the ICRC since 1992. This event serves as a sad reminder of the length of Somalia's problems, as well as proud symbol of the ability of its staff to offer essential services to Somalis of all backgrounds, despite the immense challenges of the last two decades.
  • It has provided war surgery and emergency medical care for civilians and combatants a like for the past two decades.
  • More than 216,000 people including 30, 000 with weapon related injuries, have been treated since 1992.


The ICRC and Health Care in Somalia

  • To ensure those wounded by weapons receive appropriate medical care, the ICRC permanently supports two surgical and medical emergency hospitals in Mogadishu.
  • Ad hoc assistance is also provided to other medical facilities across Somalia, including Somaliland and Puntland, in the case of mass casualty influxes. Emergency "war wounded kits", containing dressing materials, surgical supplies and other essential items, have recently been flown to hospitals in the north in response to the fighting there.
  • The organization also supports 43 SRCS primary health care and mother-and-child clinics (of which 12 are mobile clinics) serving over 473,000 people countrywide. Of these, almost 44,000 malnourished pregnant women and young children have received therapeutic feeding treatment.
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On Screen Credit: ICRC or logo

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