Increasing Access to Quality Maternal and Child Health Services - recently closed out


Through the Support for International Family Planning and Health Organizations 2 (SIFPO2) activity, USAID is implementing a maternal and child health project to increase access to maternal and child health in Somalia through both the private and public health sectors. Together with Health Poverty and Action (HPA), Save the Children and Trocaire, Population Services International (PSI) is leveraging its existing funding with DFID to increase coverage of health services, improve quality of health services through innovative approaches, and improve informed demand of these health services.


Somalia has some of the highest infant, child, and maternal mortality rates in the world.  In 2015, the maternal mortality rate was 732 per 100,000 live births and the under-five mortality rate was 137 per 1,000 live births.  One in 18 women die in pregnancy or childbirth in Somalia. Contributing to this is lack of access to skilled birth attendants, closely spaced births and adolescent marriages.

Children under five are disproportionately impacted by preventable and treatable diseases.  The leading causes of under-five deaths in Somalia are pneumonia (24%), diarrhoea (19%), neonatal disorders (17%), and measles (12%).  Immunization coverage is low with less than 50% of children between the ages of 12-23 months receiving measles and Penta 3 in 2015. Only a third of caregivers in Somalia seek care for suspected pneumonia; only 54% in Somaliland, 41% in Puntland, and 47% in south central. Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices in Somalia are sub-optimum with early initiation of breastfeeding (within one hour of birth) at 23%, and exclusive breastfeeding (breast milk only for the first 6 months of life) at only 5.3%.

Poor nutrition is also a major concern for pregnant and lactating women and children. Environmental factors and a high number of internally displaced people play a major role in causing the unchanged malnutrition rates since 2007, with more than 1.5 million children suffering from acute malnutrition (UNICEF 2017).


The SIFPO2 approach in Somalia is implemented through both the public and private sector.

Public sector: Maternal health services are underway in 118 selected villages in the Gedo region of Jubaland, Karkaar region in Puntland, and Sahil region in Somaliland. Ten of these villages are on the coast and another 26 are along rivers. They are only accessible by boat ambulance and have never received basic health services before.

Health teams were selected in consultation with the Ministries of Health and Regional Medical Officers, and have been trained on all the services they are providing through this activity.  

Trained nurses are giving general consulations to pregnant and lactating women (PLW) and providing  nutritional services to children under the age of five. 10,770 pregnant women received antenatal care services (ANC);12,050 children were vacined against common childhood illness; and 2,532 children were treated for diarrhea.

Currently, SIFPO2 is conducting a mass media campaign that is reaching a wider audience through radio and TV. Two programs are airing that focus on diarrhea, pneumonia and birth spacing, and the other is educating mothers about antennal care, postnatal care and maternal nuturition.

In addition, the activity is also supporting the Ministry of Health (MOH) with developing its operational plan for their Health Sector Strategic Plan. This assistance is intended to help the MOH to develop a performance tracking framework of their Strategic Plan.

Private sector: PSI  provides basic maternal and child health services through 12 private health facilities in Hargeisa, Somaliland. To date almost 1,140,000 water treatment kits, diarrhea and pneumonia treatment kits, and other materinal health products have been distributed in Toghdeer and Awdal regions of Somaliland.

In addition, health services are being provided in 10 private health facilities in Hargeisa. PSI conducted trainings for the facilities on integrated management of childhood illnesses, infection prevention and control, and maternal  nutrition. PSI has also facilitated the reporting of health data from the private facilities to the national Health Management Information System in Somaliland.


Issuing Country 
Tuesday, July 3, 2018 - 8:30am

Last updated: April 08, 2019