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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Destination Somaliland

Day 1 - UK

A frantic rush to get to Heathrow and then on to Nairobi.

Boroma Somaliland

Day 2 - Somaliland

Uneventful night in Nairobi. Flight to Hargeisa is from Jomo Kenyatta airport, Nairobi. It’s a non-commercial flight so after much struggling, I find that it is piggy-backing on a gate for another flight. I am last to board the tiny propeller plane which will take four hours to Hargeisa. The women in the plane put on their veils to be ready for Somaliland life and customs. Men, however, don’t have to do anything!

Somaliland is one of the five Somali regions which include Somalia, Ogadon and Djibouti. It is a self-proclaimed republic recognised by itself, Djibouti, Ethiopia and that’s about it. It was formally a British colony. The war that ripped apart the region and continues today in the South started on this corner.

Kings College London and Tropical Health Education Trust have invested in this deeply impoverished and serviceless country for about a decade. The first mental health programme was set up in 2008. I am proud to have been part of that first group and have made many trips since then.

Two universities have been created since relative peace was established in the region. Kings THET provides the mental health component by an intensive two-week course led by external lecturers and local co- lecturers. There are follow-up teachings during the year, and in the past year internet distance learning. The people we trained since 2008 are now the pioneers and leaders in mental health in Somaliland. We have a few champions who we heavily rely on to develop the mental health strategy in Somaliland. Again I am proud to have been part of their education and development.

We help the Hargeisa Group Hospital mental health ward where standards are in urgent need of improvement. I am glad to say that slowly things are a bit better.

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About this Blog

Dr Peter Hughes - consultant psychiatrist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr Peter Hughes is a consultant psychiatrist based at Springfield University Hospital, London. He has an interest in international psychiatry and has been travelling to Africa over the last five years doing short-term assignments in mental health. He has recently flown to Somaliland to work on a mental health programme.

 

This personal blog reflects Dr. Hughes' own views and does not represent any Somaliland organisation in the UK. However Dr. Hughes is indebted to KINGS-THET partnership for providing an opportunity to take part in this exciting project. He is grateful to Dr. Susie Whitwell who leads the programme for mental health, and companions Professor John Rees, Dr. Suleiman Yusuf, Helena Tabry from UK and all colleagues in Somaliland.

 

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