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Operational Update: Dr. Edna Adan Ismail, Globally Renowned Nurse-Midwife, Visits Direct Relief

2023 Templeton Prize winner and women's health champion speaks about her work to care for and empower women in Somaliland.



Dr. Edna Adan Ismail, a nurse-midwife who founded the Edna Adan University Hospital in Hargeisa, Somaliland, spoke this week at Direct Relief about her life-saving work for women in East Africa. (Kim Ofilas/Direct Relief)

Over the past seven days, Direct Relief has delivered 556 shipments of requested medical aid to 46 U.S. states and territories and 20 countries worldwide.

The shipments contained 3.3 million defined daily doses of medication and supplies, including cancer therapies, rare disease treatments, prenatal vitamins, field medic packs for triage care, and more.

Dr. Edna Adan Ismail Visits Direct Relief HQ

Dr. Edna Adan Ismail, former first lady of Somalia, 2023 Templeton Prize winner, and esteemed nurse-midwife, visited Direct Relief this week to meet with staff and speak to an audience about her work to improve the health and lives of women at Edna Adan University Hospital, in Hargeisa, Somaliland.

Dr. Edna Adan Ismail, (center) Founder & President of Edna Adan University Hospital, visited Direct Relief’s headquarters in Santa Barbara, California, on April 16, 2024. She is pictured here with Direct Relief CEO and President Thomas Tighe and Paulina Ospina, Associate Director of Maternal and Child Health Programs. (Direct Relief photo)

Adan was trained as a nurse and midwife in the United Kingdom and has worked for decades in Somaliland as an activist and health provider to end female circumcision and increase maternal access to health care.

Located in Adan’s hometown of Hargeisa, the Edna Adan University and Hospital has significantly reduced maternal mortality for women in the region, and the nonprofit charity hospital and training facility provides health services and education to the next generation of midwives. Since 2008, Direct Relief has supported the hospital with $6 million worth of medical aid, including equipment specifically to outfit trained midwives. Direct Relief’s Midwife Kits contain essential items needed to facilitate safe delivery.

Ismail toured Direct Relief’s 150,000 sq. ft. warehouse, met with staff about maternal health efforts in the region, and then spoke to the public about her vision of creating a sanctuary of care and learning.

Dr. Edna Adan Ismail, Founder & President of Edna Adan University Hospital, visited Direct Relief’s headquarters in Santa Barbara, California, on April 16, 2024. (Direct Relief photo)

Read More


The “Cruel Beast” of Covid-19: A Q&A with Edna Adan

The women’s health advocate and former Somaliland foreign minister weighs in on maternal care during Covid-19, the disease’s unknowns, and humanitarian responsibility.


What a Difference a Person Can Make: A Conversation with Edna Adan

Edna Adan has made helping mothers and babies the mission of her life, and does so in her homeland of Somaliland, where the need is great. 


Celebrating Midwives Around the World

Midwives are the first line of assistance, providing high-quality care during routine deliveries and managing basic complications. But midwives can only do their work if they have the right tools.

U.S. Wildfire Season Preparation

Healthy Mothers Health Babies Coalition of Hawai’i reviews the contents of a Direct Relief field medic pack. Direct Relief provided the organization with field medic packs to support their response to the Maui wildfires in 2023. (Direct Relief photo)

With the start of the U.S. wildfire season on the horizon, Direct Relief working to support healthcare providers located in historically impacted regions ahead of time. The organization recently shipped field medic packs to partners in Northern California, including Worldwide Healing Hands and Sacramento Medical Reserve Corps.

Designed with input from emergency physicians and public health officials, each pack contains supplies and equipment to meet a variety of prevalent disaster-related medical issues, including infection control, diagnostics, trauma care, and personal protection tools.

Direct Relief supports safety net providers and others responding to wildfires by providing medical aid, as well as emergency funding, funding and infrastructure for resilient power, and provides analysis for governments and first responders to help make informed decisions.

Learn more about Direct Relief’s wildfire response here.

Direct Relief Documentary Admitted to Global Film Festival

Direct Relief’s documentary, co-produced with BBC StoryWorks, ‘The Invisible Impact of Wildfires,’ was selected for admission to the Fifth ‘Health for All’ Film Festival hosted by the World Health Organization.

‘Invisible Impacts of Wildfires’ is part of a series called “The Climate and Us” by BBC StoryWorks and the Global Climate and Health Alliance. The series goes around the world exploring how the climate crisis is a health crisis while highlighting innovative healthcare solutions being used to help respond.

Watch the documentary here.

operational Snapshot


Included in this week’s global shipments was a delivery of seven pallets of requested medical supplies and medications that departed Direct Relief’s Santa Barbara warehouse this week bound for Honduras. The shipment will be distributed to Fundación Ruth Paz, Clínica Esperanza, and Hospital Loma de Luz. (Video by Maeve Ozimec/Direct Relief)

Over the last week, Direct Relief shipped more than 1.8 million defined daily doses of medication outside the U.S.

Countries that received medical aid over the past week included:

  • Armenia
  • Jamaica
  • Lebanon
  • Zimbabwe
  • Ukraine
  • Kenya
  • Nepal
  • Honduras
  • Peru
  • Morocco


Direct Relief delivered 527 shipments containing almost four tons of medications during the past seven days to organizations, including the following:

  • Welvista, South Carolina
  • NC MedAssist, North Carolina
  • St. Vincent de Paul Pharmacy – Dallas, Texas
  • CommunityHealth, Illinois
  • North Hudson Community Action Corporation – Administration, New Jersey
  • Volunteers in Medicine Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
  • St. Vincent de Paul Charitable Pharmacy Cincinnati, Ohio
  • UNC Health Care, North Carolina
  • Lloyd F. Moss Free Clinic Pharmacy, Virginia
  • Minnesota Community Care, Minnesota


Since January 1, 2024, Direct Relief has delivered 7,140 shipments to 1,523 partner organizations in 54 U.S. states and territories and 62 countries.

These shipments contained 108.5 million defined daily doses of medication totaling 2.3 million lbs.

In the News

Viatris Announces Product Donations To Direct Relief of More Than 7 Million Doses of Medicine To Support Access to Medicine and Healthcare – Morning Star

Plan A Health Hits the Road for Patients in Mississippi Delta – Angels in Medicine

Pacific Pride Foundation Hosts 11th Annual PROUD Prom in Collaboration with ILRC The Santa Barbara Independent

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