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IOM Engages Finnish-Somali Diaspora to Strengthen Health and Education Systems in Somalia
Helsinki – On 7-9 February 2024, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) hosted outreach activities to engage with Somali diaspora professionals living in Finland to participate in the third phase of Migration for Development in Africa (MIDA) FINNSOM Health and Education project.
Launched in May 2023, phase three of the MIDA FINNSOM project harnesses the expertise and knowledge of the Somali Diaspora to enhance the capacity of Somalia's health and education systems. IOM collaborates with the Ministry of Health and Human Services and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Higher Education of the Federal Government of Somalia to implement the project.
Through this phase, which will run until 2025, 40 highly qualified Somali diaspora experts in short-term professional assignments will mentor and train at least 40 local Somali professionals and 40 recent graduates strengthening their capacities. The project builds on the successes of the preceding 15 years of MIDA programme implementation.
"The MIDA FINNSOM project’s emphasis on improving the health of the most vulnerable populations in Somalia aligns with Finland's development policy objectives. This focus has yielded impressive outcomes so far, such as a contribution to significant reduction in maternal and infant mortality rates in Somalia,” underlines Tobias van Treeck, Head of Office of IOM Finland.
In Somalia, the education sector is faced by challenges of limited essential infrastructure including classrooms and education resources, scarce teaching personnel among others. Similarly, the public health system is challenged by the limitations of inadequate health infrastructure, scarce supplies, and shortage of skilled personnel. The involvement of these Somali professionals is crucial in bridging these gaps.
An event that focused on milestones and opportunities of the project was held on 8 February. Additionally, in focus was engagement with Finnish-Somali organizations to explore ways of resource mobilization towards the health and education sectors in Somalia.
During the outreach, the diaspora experts were also provided with information on how to apply and participate in the MIDA project in order to support capacity building, policy development and service delivery in Somalia. The Somali delegation additionally engaged with diaspora and other Finnish NGOs, gaining insights into the longstanding history of the relationship between Finland and Somalia.
“We have encouraged the local healthcare and education professionals to contribute their expertise to Somalia. Despite the turbulent terrain, Somalia remains steadfast in its pursuit of progress, and it is through our collective dedication with the diaspora that we can navigate the path ahead,” stated Dr Guled Abdi Jalil Sheikh Ali, Director General of the Ministry of Health & Human Services of the Federal Government of Somalia.
The role of female diaspora experts is a crucial component within the programme. "The inclusion of women is pivotal to fostering a sustainable society. As women are empowered to contribute to the development of their communities, they, in turn, inspire those around them to do the same,” remarked Saara Parkkali, the MIDA FINNSOM Project Coordinator.
“I was appointed a medical education curriculum developer at the Somali National University through MIDA FINNSOM in 2016. I witnessed firsthand the challenges upon my arrival only two years after the university's establishment in 2014. In a scenario where there was a scarcity of teachers, I embarked on the task from ground zero. Introducing medical ethics became imperative, setting a precedent for other institutions to follow suit. This collective effort has since fostered significant development within medical ethics in Somalia,” said Dr Mulki Mölsä, one of the over 200 diaspora experts who have been transferring their knowledge and skills back to Somalia through the programme since 2009.
During the outreach, representatives from Somalia held meetings with Finnish partners, including the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and the University of Helsinki, to foster collaboration and knowledge exchange.
The MIDA FINNSOM project is funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and aligns with both the Finland Country Strategy for Somalia 2021-2024 and the Finnish Country Programme for Somalia 2021-2024 highlighting the commitment of the Finnish government to support initiatives focused on sustainable development and diaspora engagement.
For more information and media inquiries, please contact:
In Helsinki: Miina Noroila, firstname.lastname@example.org, +358 40 774 0025
In Somalia: Muthoni Njenga, email@example.com, +254 720 95 88 15