LIBYAPROSPECT – Aya Khalil
The Libyan health sector was severely hit by the ongoing conflict. Several hospitals and health centers spoke of lack of medical supplies and warned of a disaster on the horizon.
A report by CNN Arabic (translated by LIBYAPROSPECT) uncovers a side of the suffer of health sector workers that affect Libyans’ daily lives and their access to health care.
Bone and arthritis doctor, Mohammed Khalil, told CNN Arabic that health situation in Libya is too bad. He said that Libyans can no longer find eligible hospitals to receive them, since many hospitals closed after they were damaged, and the remaining open hospitals operate partially as several sections stopped working, especially Surgery departments that equipment drained in healing the war-wounded. Some medications have become non-existent and medical staff decreased.
Khalil attributed declining health services and the imbalance in the medical system to the lack of security and the continuation of the political conflicts between the two rival governments, in addition to the departure of the foreign crews after being targeted by militias, by kidnapping and threatening their lives. “This all resulted in several deaths, especially amongst newborns and infants because of the absence of the medical care and treatment.” He adds.
About the work circumstances, Khalil explained to CNN Arabic that they became very difficult, unsecured and in addition to the threats, forcing many doctors to stop providing their services and staying at homes, especially women, while others turn to leave the country and look for other jobs due to impossibility of carrying out their humanitarian and moral role to save patients.
Anesthesia Technician in Al-Khadhra hospital in Tripoli, Mohamed Alpounda, told CNN Arabic that the health workers found themselves working in miserable conditions; they work under the pressure of high patient numbers, while having no tools and no abilities are available, in addition to not getting paid, due to the financial crisis and corruption in the health sector. In some cases, workers are subjected to attacks by either patients or their parents or militias.
Faced with such tough conditions, Libyan patients who go to hospitals find difficulty in healing, he told CNN Arabic. A patient called Ahmed Ibrahim was subjected to assassination attempt on his way to work in Al-Kufra city resulting in deep injuries in his hands and feet by bullets fragments, he was taken to the hospital to begin his suffering with health services.
Ahmed denounced the absence of medical briefings for the sick and wounded, adding that he couldn’t be treated in the hospital due to lack of surgical requirements and medical equipment and the absence of medical specialists, as he underwent some first aid that didn’t work, adding to the deterioration of his health, to be forced in the end to leave the country to be treated in Tunisia on his expense.
A patient of lung cancer, Abdul Rahman Al-Mahjoub told CNN Arabic that not all Libyans have the financial resources to go abroad for treatment. Speaking about weeks in which he couldn’t get his chemotherapy. “We die slowly here, many will lose their lives if treatment conditions don’t improve, there is no food, no medicine no doctors no good hospitals or services, many medicines are no longer available in the country so do medical tests, and diseases are spreading, and officials in slumber amid all of this” .
The representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) to Libya, Sayyed Jaafar, warned, last month, of the deteriorating health situation in Libya, confirming that lives of millions of patients who need urgent treatments in Libya are in danger, because of the internal conflict.
Jaafar explained that in case health aids don’t arrive immediately, 2 million citizens will be at risk of humanitarian and health disaster, stressing that it is no longer possible to wait for a political solution in order to respond to these problems.
The report continuous, the international community is looking forward to ending the conflict in Libya through a unity government to start providing international aid in all fields. The Libyan Minister of Health, Ridha Al-Oukly, said that donors should not wait for the formation of the government, and must start helping Libya to rebuild the health care system and combat growing prevalence of the disease, adding that there should be a separation between the humanitarian needs of the Libyans and any political dialogue, other option is a crime, he adds.
Al-Oukly said about the situation of the health care system that at least 60 or 70% of the Libyan hospitals are either closed or completely out of service, and more than 80% of employees in the departments that require high skills, such as intensive care and emergency rooms and operations, left the hospitals. He pointed out that the country has deficit in the life-saving medicines.
A Libyan living in Tunisia for 4 years, Kareem Al-Shahawy, said “look at the situation, after we used to grant medical aids, we now beg the world for aids, this is what fight over power gave us”.