Edna Adan

  • Former First Lady of Somalia  
  • Foreign Minister of Somaliland
  • World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Nursing Adviser during 1986

Edna Adan was born in Hargeisa, the daughter of a prominent Somali medical doctor and was trained as a nurse in the United Kingdom at the Borough Polytechnic, now London South Bank University. She married Muhammad Haji Ibrahim Egal, a Somali politician who was elected Prime Minister of Somalia in 1967.

In 1980 Edna Adan started building a hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia. However, due to the beginning of Somali Civil war she was forced to leave the country before it was completed.

She was the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Nursing Adviser during 1986. From 1987 to 1991, she was the Regional Technical Officer for Mother and Child Health. In this role, she was responsible for working to end harmful traditional practices which affect the health of women and children (such as female genital mutilation), and for training midwives and traditional birth attendants in the 22 countries of the Eastern Mediterranean Region of the WHO. Afterwards, she was the representative of the WHO in Djibouti between 1991 and 1997.

In 2002, on land donated to her by the regional government on a site formerly used as a garbage dump, she officially opened The Edna Adan Maternity Hospital.

The region lacked trained nurses to staff the hospital so Edna recruited more than 30 candidates and began training them in 2000 while the hospital was still under construction. The hospital now has two operating theatres, a laboratory, a library, a computer center and a complete wing dedicated to training nurses and midwives.

Edna Adan Ismail was the only woman minister in the Somaliland government until July 2006, when she was replaced as Foreign Minister by former Minister of Information and National Guidance Abdillahi Mohamed Dualeh.In recognition of her lifelong contribution to Humanitarian work, the name of Edna Adan Ismail was added to the Medical Mission Hall of Fame, University of Toledo, Ohio, in March 2007. She has an Honorary Doctoral Degree from Clark University in Massachusetts and was made Honorary Fellow of Cardiff University School of Nursing in Wales on July 8, 2008. In May 2014, she received Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Pennsylvania.

In 2012 Edna Adan and the hospital were featured in the documentary Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, premiering on PBS October 1 and 2. The series introduces women and girls living under very difficult circumstances and bravely fighting to challenge them. The Half the Sky PBS TV series is produced by Show of Force along with Fugitive Films.

She has been called “The Muslim Mother Teresa” by The Huffington Post.

To book Edna Adan call Executive Speakers Bureau at 901-754-9404.

See Below for Full Bio

  • Speaking Topics:

    Health & Wellness, Inspiration, Motivation, Philanthropy & Volunteerism, Women’s Motivational, Women's Issues

  • Travels From:

    District of Columbia

  • Price:

    $15,000 - $20,000

    Notes on Fees

  • Videos
  • Full Bio
  • Speech Topics
  • Books
  • Testimonials
  • News

TEDxRC2 - Edna Adan Ismail - If We Can Train Midwives in Somaliland, Everyone Can!

Edna Adan: Hero

Edna Adan was born in Hargeisa, the daughter of a prominent Somali medical doctor and was trained as a nurse in the United Kingdom at the Borough Polytechnic, now London South Bank University. She married Muhammad Haji Ibrahim Egal, a Somali politician who was elected Prime Minister of Somalia in 1967.

In 1980 Edna Adan started building a hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia. However, due to the beginning of Somali Civil war she was forced to leave the country before it was completed.

She was the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Nursing Adviser during 1986. From 1987 to 1991, she was the Regional Technical Officer for Mother and Child Health. In this role, she was responsible for working to end harmful traditional practices which affect the health of women and children (such as female genital mutilation), and for training midwives and traditional birth attendants in the 22 countries of the Eastern Mediterranean Region of the WHO. Afterwards, she was the representative of the WHO in Djibouti between 1991 and 1997.

In 2002, on land donated to her by the regional government on a site formerly used as a garbage dump, she officially opened The Edna Adan Maternity Hospital.

The region lacked trained nurses to staff the hospital so Edna recruited more than 30 candidates and began training them in 2000 while the hospital was still under construction. The hospital now has two operating theatres, a laboratory, a library, a computer center and a complete wing dedicated to training nurses and midwives.

Edna Adan Ismail was the only woman minister in the Somaliland government until July 2006, when she was replaced as Foreign Minister by former Minister of Information and National Guidance Abdillahi Mohamed Dualeh.In recognition of her lifelong contribution to Humanitarian work, the name of Edna Adan Ismail was added to the Medical Mission Hall of Fame, University of Toledo, Ohio, in March 2007. She has an Honorary Doctoral Degree from Clark University in Massachusetts and was made Honorary Fellow of Cardiff University School of Nursing in Wales on July 8, 2008. In May 2014, she received Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Pennsylvania.

In 2012 Edna Adan and the hospital were featured in the documentary Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, premiering on PBS October 1 and 2. The series introduces women and girls living under very difficult circumstances and bravely fighting to challenge them. The Half the Sky PBS TV series is produced by Show of Force along with Fugitive Films.

She has been called “The Muslim Mother Teresa” by The Huffington Post.

To book Edna Adan call Executive Speakers Bureau at 901-754-9404.

Women’s Health

Building a Sound Health Infrastructure

Health Management

Maternal and Infant Health

Female Genital Mutilation ‘cutting’

Gender Based Violence

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