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Thursday, September 21, 2023

Edna Adan Ismail wins Templeton Prize for health advocacy

Templeton Prize recipient transforming healthcare in Somalia, empowering women, and saving lives through her unwavering dedication.

Edna Adan Ismail, the retired Somali politician, has dedicated her life to transforming female health and providing competent medical care in her native land. Her relentless pursuit of women’s rights and her unwavering commitment to improving healthcare has garnered her numerous accolades, including the prestigious Templeton Prize, making her the recipient of the largest monetary prize ever won by an African woman. 

A Life Devoted to Service

From her early experiences as the daughter of a Somali doctor, Edna Adan Ismail understood the value of education and seized every opportunity that came her way. Becoming the first Somali woman to study abroad and later the first woman to obtain a driver’s license in Somalia, she paved the way for future generations of women. Her journey continued as she became her country’s first nurse and eventually married the first prime minister of Somalia.

Read More: A journey to empowerment: Edna’s fight against FGM

Journey Marred by Political Turmoil

Edna’s life took a dramatic turn when Somalia fell under the rule of Siad Biarre, and a cruel form of communism was imposed. Branded as an “antirevolutionary” and subjected to arrests and interrogations, she ultimately fled the country. Despite personal hardships, she persevered and used her medical training and language skills to work with the World Health Organization, focusing on Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean, and Afghanistan.

The Edna Adan Hospital

Edna Adan Ismail’s unwavering dedication to healthcare led her to sell her car and invest her life savings in turning a former landfill into the renowned Edna Adan Hospital in Hargeisa. This transformative endeavor has greatly reduced mortality rates in the region, showcasing Ismail’s relentless determination and commitment to providing competent medical care. The hospital stands as a testament to her unwavering passion and devotion to improving healthcare in her native land.

Education and Empowerment

Recognizing the importance of education in sustainable healthcare, Ismail established a small university within the Edna Adan Hospital. Through this initiative, she trains the next generation of medical staff, ensuring they receive high-quality instruction in English, the international language of medicine. Her commitment to education extends to the establishment of a modest medical school, further empowering the local community with the necessary skills to address healthcare challenges.

Fight Against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Edna Adan Ismail’s unwavering commitment to women’s rights is exemplified by her tireless advocacy against the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). Rooted in cultural beliefs rather than religious doctrine, she passionately argues that FGM goes against the teachings of Islam and deeply harms women. As a victim of FGM herself, Ismail has become a leading voice in the global campaign to eradicate this harmful practice.

Read More: Good Touch & Bad Touch: Rampant Child Sexual Abuse in Pakistan

Edna Adan Ismail’s extraordinary journey and remarkable achievements make her a beacon of hope and inspiration. Her tireless efforts to improve healthcare, empower women, and fight against harmful cultural practices have earned her widespread recognition, including the Templeton Prize. As the world applauds her transformative work, it is clear that Edna Adan Ismail’s legacy will continue to inspire future generations and pave the way for a brighter and more equitable future in healthcare and beyond.