By Karla Schneider
Few people would imagine that a one-time foreign minister would be delivering babies in a hospital built on the site of a former dump. They have never met Edna Adan Ismail.
Ismail, who donated her United Nations pension and other personal assets to build the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital, is the keynote speaker at next week's African Health Summit, organized by Ohio University's Institute for the African Child. This is the second year for the summit, titled "Campus and Community Together."
Ismail will address the subject of female genital mutilation and, in particular, how far the world has come after three decades of struggle against it. Her talk will open the symposium at 1 p.m. in Bentley Hall 233. Faculty and staff research and initiatives relating to health issues in Africa will be the focus of the summit's afternoon panels.
Steve Howard, director of the university's Center for African Studies and the Institute for the African Child, and Matthew Adeyanju, director of the School of Health Sciences, recently returned from Somaliland, where they visited Ismail and her hospital.
"Edna Adan Ismail is in the league of Africa's heroes," Howard said. "She is a woman who came from relative privilege who has lived the example of 'from whom much as been given, much is expected.'"
A certified nurse and midwife, Ismail served as the Republic of Somaliland's foreign minister and minister of family welfare and social development before beginning the hospital project in 1998. Her goal was to improve health standards for the Somali people, whose lives have been traumatized by ongoing regional conflicts and the civil war that was the focus of the 2001 film "Black Hawk Down."
In addition to providing critically needed care, the hospital also trains new nurses. Sixty women already have graduated from the hospital's three-year general nursing program.
While in Athens, Ismail will tour O'Bleness Memorial Hospital's facilities and meet with the Athens Birth Circle, a community support organization for new and expectant parents.
"I hope that members of our community have a chance to interact with her and learn what commitment can do for people's health under difficult political circumstances," Howard said.
Click here for full details and the schedule for the African Health Summit or contact Assistant Director of African Studies Acacia Nikoi at 740-597-1511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.