HARGEISA — Mrs. Edna Adan Ismail, the Director of Edna Adan Maternity Hospital, has been awarded the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur in the Somaliland capital, Hargeisa, by the French Embassy of Djibouti on Saturday, in recognition of her Humanitarian work.
The order, Legion d’Honneur, which was created by Emperor Napoleon in 1804, is France’s highest decoration and is usually awarded to French nationals who have delivered exceptional service to the Republic of France. However, the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy has in person decided to award Mrs Edna for her humanity work in Somaliland, in particular for addressing women and children issues. She was to receive the award on the 16th of April along with the American fashion designer and business icon, Ralph Lauren, for his “his outstanding career and his philanthropic activities and interest in France” in Paris.
The French Ambassador, Mr. Dominique Decherf, who delivered the award on behave of the French leader, said, the French president wanted to award Mrs. Edna in person but Mrs Edna preferred her to be awarded in her own country. Mr. Decherf, along with a high-level French delegation delivered the award to her in her own community hospital.
Mrs. Edna, who runs her own maternity hospital also served as the Minister of Social Welfare in August, 2002, and then Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Somaliland in May, 2003, until late 2006.
Mrs. Edna who was also the first lady when Somaliland received it’s independence from Britain in 1960 has received numerous awards and recognitions from various nations and organisations for her lifelong contribution to Humanitarian work.
In January of this year, Edna received the Chancellor’s Medal from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, for her “outstanding contribution to humanity”, and for helping the “under-privileged people of Somaliland to realize their right to health”.
In February, Mrs. Edna was invited to the Women in the World Summit at the United Nation by US Secretary of State, Mrs. Hillary Clinton.
In October of 2009, Edna was invited to the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) by former US president, Mr. Bill Clinton.
In July of 2008, she received her Honorary Fellowship in Nursing from the prestigious Cardiff University in Wales. Prior to her Honorary Fellowship, Mrs. Edna obtained a Honorary Doctoral Degree from the Clark University in Massachusetts, United States.
In March of 2007, Mrs Edna’s name was added to the Medical Mission Hall of Fame, University of Toledo, Ohio, USA, making her the only African on the list.
Mrs. Edna found and funded the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital in Hargeisa in 2002, by March 2002 the first baby was born and has since delivered 9600 babies. Edna told Lynn Sherr of the Daily Beast, that the hospital has reduced the maternal mortality rate by one-fourth since it opened its doors, losing 39 babies, a number, Edna says its still too high. Edna says the causes are lack of education, provery and harmful traditional practices.
The hospital was built on former grave yard, where former Somali military massacred thousands of civilians. The hospital has served more than 96, 000 other patients of mainly women and children. Edna Maternity Hospital provides diagnosis and treatment for Sexually Transmitted Diseases including testing for HIV/AIDS and it’s facilities are open for other clinics and hospitals for medical research, studies and consultations.
As well as treating the sick and delivering babies, the hospital also runs a Nursing school that has since educated 26 midwives and also trains nurses and Assistant Laboratory Technicians. As well as the school dedicated to training nurses and midwives, the hospital has it’s own library, two operating theatres, Laboratory room, and computer centre.
In the 80s, Mrs. Edna also built a private hospital in Mogadishu but shortly after it was completed the civil war began and some warlord has since occupied her premises. She also worked as Regional Nursing Adviser (Djibouti) under the World Health Organisation in 1987, before taking up, Regional Technical Officer for Mother and Child Health for 22 countries in the region (East Africa, Middle East and Mediterranean). Mrs. Edna continues to be strong advocate against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and other traditional birth practices as well as creating awareness for children health in particular in maternal and infant mortality.
Mrs. Edna Adan is the first Somali to be decorated with the all prestige Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, which only few foreign nationals have ever received. She was awared on Saturday, the 17th of April 2010, in Edna Adan Maternity Hospital, Hargeisa, Somaliland.
The French delegation consisted of Mr. Dominique Decherf, French Ambassador to Djibouti and Mr. Thierry Choinier, the first secretary of the French Embassy in Djibouti, Mr. Banos Robles Bernard and Mr. Jacques Sabrot, from the French Ministry of education and the Ministry of Culture respectively (see British and French diplomats arrive).
The guests to witness the occasion included Somaliland foreign minister, Mr. Abdullahi Mohamed Dualeh, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Abdirahman Osman Adan, members of parliament, doctors, nurses, students and other dignitaries.