Cairo, February 11, 2019:
“Years of conflict in Libya have left behind a struggling and over-burdened health care system. Many health facilities are fully or partially closed, limiting access to health care services to a population suffering from challenges from the 8-year conflict,” said Dr Syed Jaffar Hussain, WHO Representative in Libya.
A health service availability and readiness assessment by WHO and the Ministry of Health in 2017 revealed that 17.5% of hospitals, 20% of primary health care facilities and 18 specialized hospitals are partially damaged or completely destroyed. Health facilities that remain functional are at continued risk of attack, with more than 41 attacks targeting health workers and facilities reported by WHO in 2018–2019 across the country.
Shortage of essential medicines and health service providers, and limited capacity of national public health programmes, increase the risk of spread of communicable diseases, including acute watery diarrhoea, leishmaniasis, tuberculosis and vaccine preventable diseases. Migrants, displaced people, refugees, and rural communities are especially at risk.
Inadequate access to health care is also impacting patients with chronic diseases, people with special needs and mental health conditions, and women and mothers in need of reproductive, maternal, and newborn child health services.
Despite the health sector receiving only 36% of required funding for the Libya Humanitarian Response Plan in 2018, WHO successfully supported almost 405 000 medical consultations through the provision of medical supplies, more than 16 400 specialized health care consultations, and 188 major surgical procedures, including cardiac surgeries for 78 children.
In December 2018, WHO and UNICEF, in partnership with National Center for Disease Control of the Ministry of Health, implemented a national measles, rubella and polio vaccination campaign that reached more than 2.65 million children.
“Investing in the health of people in Libya is a critical investment in the future of the Region,” added Dr Jaffar. “Without funding, hundreds of thousands of people will be left without the health services they need, further adding to this humanitarian tragedy and increasing the risk of diseases crossing borders.”
Health response activities by WHO and 8 health partners in Libya in 2019 include: providing a minimum package of health services to people in need (including migrants in detention centres) through fixed or mobile facilities; strengthening the disease surveillance and rapid response system; and supporting health facilities by training and deploying Emergency Medical Teams to provide specialized health services.