Libya: support for access to health services
Since 2011, Libya has been undergoing strong political and economic instability, accentuated since 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic. Faced with such factors of tension, the health sector has been deeply impacted, particularly in the district of Al-Marj, in the northeast of the country. It is in this context that Première Urgence Internationale decided in March 2021 to support the rural clinic of Ahmed Al-Gheriani.
Gumaa, a regular visitor of our Non-Communicable Diseases Clinic with Première Urgence Internationale medical doctor in Ahmed Al-Gheriani Primary health center I © Première Urgence Internationale
WEAKENED HEALTH CARE SERVICES IN LIBYA
Libya has entered its 11th year of instability after the fall of the previous regime in 2011. This prolonged political and economic fragility has had a severe impact on the population living in Libya, resulting in a significant deterioration in access to basic services. Since the beginning of the conflict that raged in Benghazi district and the neighboring areas of Ajdabiya and Al Marj in 2014, the health service system has been severely damaged. Health care establishments were already struggling to cope with the increasing number of non-communicable disease (NCD) cases when the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020, further weakening the health system.
“Due to the shortage and lack of resources, adequate working environment, lack of basic medical equipment and medicines and highly qualified medical personnel, people were forced to drive more than an hour and a half to consult specialized doctors in the nearest city, Benghazi.” explains Ahmed Al-Gheriani, head of the primary health center. The clinic is located in the district of Al Marj, an area of about 85,000 people, which is home to Libyans and non-Libyans.
STRENGTHENING PRIMARY HEALTH CARE SERVICES
During one year, Première Urgence Internationale has supported the Ahmed Al-Gheriani health center in order to strengthen the technical and management capacities of the medical staff.
“The training sessions have created a strong synergy between the different departments of the health facility, which has improved the quality of services provided by the medical staff. In fact, we are not only seeing a huge change in attitude, but also a significant increase in the number of patients registered for NCD treatment compared to the beginning of the project.”, says Ghazala.
The addition of psychological support, integrated into the overall services provided by the clinic, helps to reduce the tension and anxiety resulting from the pressure of carrying incurable chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and endocrine disorders, especially for young patients.
A MUCH IMPROVED SITUATION DESPITE THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Gumaa, a 47-year-old Libyan father of nine, speaks about his experience at the Ahmed Al-Gheriani Clinic: “Before I came to the clinic, I used to go to a private doctor and laboratory. Since I found out about the services offered by the clinic, I have been taking care of myself and going for my regular check-up. I was received by the nursing staff who took my data and measured my blood pressure and sugar levels. They even provided me with free medication. I started following their instructions and now I don’t have to pay for my treatment or the glucose meter. After receiving health education and awareness sessions from the social worker, I realized that I needed psychological support. The sessions with the psychologist helped me regain hope and motivation. I feel much better now, and I even have better results. The service is very good and the staff is very attentive, from the nurse to the doctor to the social worker.”
Since the beginning of the project, the number of registered patients in the clinic has increased by 77%, which has resulted in increased traffic in the health facility.
“With the outbreak of COVID-19, the situation escalated and the risk of infection among health care providers and visitors was high. In order to avoid congestion inside the health center and to improve infection prevention and control measures, Première Urgence Internationale installed a prefabricated building fully furnished and equipped with medical devices dedicated to consultations for patients with non-communicable diseases. This activity was implemented in close collaboration with the local authorities who donated a piece of land near the health center”, attests Ghazala, head of the health center.
Faced with a lack of highly qualified staff and a lack of medical equipment and medicines, Première Urgence Internationale is continuing its support to improve access to comprehensive, quality health services for the population living with non-communicable diseases in a country affected by years of conflict and political instability.
This project was carried out with the support of the Crisis and Support Center (CDCS) and in coordination with the local authorities.
To find out more about our actions in Libya, click here.