Libyan Health Care on Life Support


TRIPOLI, 2 September 2014 (IRIN) - The political chaos and unrest in Libya is taking a serious toll on health services, with the departure of medical staff and humanitarian agencies increasing the strain on health workers seeking to treat those injured in the clashes taking place since June.

According to a World Health Organization (WHO) situation report, thousands of people have fled their homes in Tripoli and Benghazi and “large hospitals in Tripoli and Benghazi are overwhelmed with patients requiring emergency and trauma care.”

Several aid and UN agencies have reduced staffing levels. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) moved international staff to neighbouring Tunisia, though national staff in Libya continue to work on the ground. On 28 August five newly equipped ambulances were hijacked and stolen.

Foreign medical staff begin to leave

The Ministry of Health fears a “total collapse” of its health care if foreign medical staff leave Libya in large numbers, according to a spokesman. Sixty percent of hospital staff are from the Philippines and 20 percent from India.

“The departure of foreign medical staff and shortages in medical supplies has rendered the plight of civilians more critical,” Tarek Mitri, the UN special representative of the Secretary-General in Libya, told the UN Security Council on 27 August.

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