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Last Updated: Monday, 14 May 2007, 15:40 GMT 16:40 UK
Somali doctor: 'So many patients'
Dr Hawa Abdi Didlawe, 60, runs Lafole Hospital which is 20km from the Somali capital, Mogadishu. She spoke to the BBC News website about the difficulties in trying to treat and help all those that come to her.

Mother watches over her wounded baby
The fighting has caused many mothers to lose their babies
People come and ask me to help them but I don't have enough to give them.

Medicine, shelter, food... there is never enough for everyone that needs. They are asking for everything but I have nothing to give them.

Many, many people come everyday.

Seventy-two families came on just one day. That was when the fighting in Mogadishu was the heaviest.

But sometimes only 10 or 15 families come.

'Under the trees'

There are four doctors working at the hospital. Two are from Mogadishu and then it is my daughter and I.

Woman sitting on ground where her home once stood
Battle-related injuries are the most common operations done

My daughter trained in Russia. I trained in the former Soviet Union.

We have 10 qualified nurses but we are always training more. Currently we have 28 trainees.

Lafole Hospital has a 100-bed capacity but we have many, many more patients than that.

There are patients lying on mats on the floor, in the corridors and even outside, under the trees in the shade.

Most of our patients come from Mogadishu and the most common operations we perform are battle-related - we operate on about 10 to 12 gunshot wounds a day for example. Then we also cater for those hit by mortar shells.

'Need more'

Mogadishu has always been a battle zone - well for the last 16 years. But what we have been seeing is worse than ever before.

Two women wait at a cholera treatment centre, Mogadishu
Most patients have fled Mogadishu

It is too bad.

The worst thing lately is the amount of abortions that we are being forced to carry out. Women have been coming to us, bleeding very heavily and it is too late to save their babies.

Some of them were five-months pregnant.

In the past four months we have done more than 1,000 abortions.

Somehow this is what I find most difficult to deal with. I blame the heavy shelling. I think the shock they suffer brings on their births prematurely.

There was one woman though. She had run from the fighting in Mogadishu, all the while in labour. She had lain under a tree in the bush for five days before someone brought her in.

We managed to save her.

But I had to take out her dead child.

Medecins sans Frontieres have given us lots of intravenous fluid bags which are so important for our dehydrated patients and today I got some food from Red Cross.

It helps, but we need even more. More antibiotics, more medicines, more food. There is never enough for everyone.




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