COVID-19: In Libya, Première Urgence Internationale maintains its health activities

Libya recorded its first case of COVID-19 on March 24, 2020, since then there are 4,063  confirmed cases and 93 deaths (according to the National Centre for Disease Control – NCDC – data as of August 4, 2020). Since the start of the pandemic, the Première Urgence Internationale teams have decided to maintain their health activities to meet the needs of the vulnerable population and to include a COVID-19 component to limit the spread of the virus in the two areas of Benghazi and Al Kufra where the NGO operates.

Indeed, the already fragile health system before the outbreak of COVID-19, fears a real threat for the country, in case the virus will spread throughout the country.

COVID-19 en Libye - Intervention de Première Urgence Internationale

© Suliman Escandrani in the Shahat detention center in March 2020 for Première Urgence Internationale

In front of the COVID-19’s pandemic in Libya

Since the 2011 revolution, Libya has faced strong political instability that has led to the collapse of its economic and social system. The conflict between forces loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libyan National Army (LNA) of Khalifa Haftar worsens the situation.

In 2019, out of Libya’s 6.6 million inhabitants, an estimated 490,000 people are in need of protection and 554,000 don’t have acces to healtcare (OCHA, 2019), the spread of COVID-19 thus weakens an already weakened health system.

To limit any contamination, it was therefore necessary to quickly adapt the activities, train our teams to apply barrier gestures, identification and management of suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19, while ensuring the availability of the equipment needed in this period of stock shortages and global supply tensions.

A multiple intervention

In Benghazi, Première Urgence Internationale teams work in detention centers, internally displaced persons camps and health care centers. Find out about the activities implemented to limit the spread of COVID-19 in these establishments:

  • In detention centers, the medical teams provide health care, awareness sessions on the virus and preventive measures. Also, distributions of hygiene and basic necessities kits are organised among the detainees present in four official detention centers in Eastern Libya (Al Marj, Ajdabiya, Ganfouda and Tolmaitha). More than 1,100 kits (1kit / inmate) have been distributed since the start of the year by the NGO.
  • In Internal Displacement Camps, awareness sessions on the virus and preventive measures have also been put in place. The teams organized hand washing demonstration sessions for the children. Moreover, leaflet have been distributed to inform people about the disease and the barrier measures to adopt.
  • Awareness sessions and training on COVID-19 were organized in two structures supported by Première Urgence Internationale. In addition, sessions on the proper use of protective equipment and stress management were organized to support healthcare teams.

Since April 2020, the teams of Première Urgence Internationale have been preparing awareness-raising materials and delivering trainings for the health staff in the facilities identified by the Ministry of Health to receive patients with COVID-19 symptoms. The health staff will also be provided with personal protective equipment.

COVID-19 in Libya intervention by Première Urgence InternationaleThe Première Urgence Internationale teams are putting up awareness posters on the COVID-19 – © Première Urgence Internationale

Mobilisation in the most remote areas

In addition, in the Alregion in south-eastern Libya, the health activities continues in seven health care centers supported by Première Urgence Internationale. The activities proposed, to fight against the COVID-19, are similar as in Benghazi: awareness-raising sessions, implementation of prevention measures, training of nursing staff, printing of leaflets, etc.

The NGO also donated cleaning materials and distributed hygiene kits to 500 families among the most vulnerable in the city of Al Kufra.

At the same time, Première Urgence Internationale has created a partnership with the Libyan Red Crescent (LRC) in order to carry out door-to-door awareness sessions on prevention measures, thanks to the support of 14 volunteers from the LRC.

COVID-19 in Libya intervention by Première Urgence InternationaleIntervention by Première Urgence Internationale teams in Alkoufra during a community awareness campaign in April 2020, in partnership with the Libyan Red Crescent – © Première Urgence Internationale

Première Urgence Internationale has been operating in the country since 2017 with primary health activities as well as psychosocial support. It operates initially in the region of Benghazi, and since 2019, the NGO has expanded its activities in area on the region of Alkufra.

All of these activities are implemented with financial support of UNHCR, ECHO, the International Rescue Committee (lRC) and the European Union Delegation.

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