Somaliland: Mentally ill patients roaming Burao streets as health centre runs out of money for drugs

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Patients from Mandhaye mental health centre in the northern Somali city of Burao, in Somaliland’s Togdher region, have been found roaming the streets since being taken off their prescribed medication due to cuts in funding.

For the last six years, Sahra Hassan Jama was getting free medication for her 18-year old daughter at the centre. She told Radio Ergo that she cannot afford the $20 a week the drugs would cost her, so her daughter has been off the medication she was prescribed for five months. Her health has been deteriorating.

Sahro’s daughter was discharged from Mandahye centre in 2015 when she was recovering and was prescribed medication at home. The family was able to access the drugs free of charge on an out-patient basis from the center. Sahro owns a small stall selling tomatoes earning around $14 a week. She has seven children.

Dr Abdi Sudi, the health centre director, said their medicine stocks ran out in January. Somali diaspora funders had been sending about $2,000 a month to support the centre, after financing from the Somaliland administration was cut.  The remittances paid for cleaning, water and electricity bills, as well as pay the doctors. The doctors have been working unpaid since January, when the remittances tailed off.

The centre has 15 adults, including five women, living in. Their families are managing to buy their own drugs. Other in-patients had to be sent home because the relatives could not afford the treatment. The doctors say some of them have become very sick and have been found roaming in streets and in markets.

Farah Ahmed Diriye, 25, has been ill for two years.  His family in Ainaba, 120 km from Burao, brought him to Mandhaye hospital in May.  The doctors agreed to admit him but said his family had to buy the drugs.  Other patients have been arriving from far off places in Togdheer and cannot be treated due to to inability to pay.

The centre has been regularly serving more than 2,000 out-patients

Radio Ergo

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