Libyan Health Crisis: 12 Newborns Die of Infection in South Libya

(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) medic attending to newborns at Ras Tubah Hospital in Misrata

Twelve newborn babies died of bacterial infections over the past month at Sabha Medical Centre, which is south Libya’s only Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), highlighting Libya’s deteriorating health situation and need of humanitarian support.

“Libya’s collapsing health system has claimed more precious lives,” said Ali Al-Za’tari, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya.

Al-Za’tari stated that the understaffed and under-resourced hospitals in Libya are causing preventable deaths from infection and a lack of supplies and called for support: “We have repeatedly called for funding to support a system stripped of medical expertise and lacking essential equipment like sterilization kits.”  

Sabha Medical Centre provides families in southern Libya with maternal and newborn care, and the lack of incubators and experienced staff at the facility is putting vulnerable infants at risk of infection

“There are twelve families in the south of Libya grieving the loss of their newborns, when simple assistance might have prevented their deaths,” said Al-Za’tari.

An investigation into the deaths has found that a shortage of experienced medical staff, a lack of sterilization of equipment and among personnel, unregulated visits, and an infestation of rodents and cockroaches are some of the issues the hospital is grappling with.

Sabha Medical Centre is reportedly planning on installing new incubators and educating medical staff on proper sterilization and infection control procedures.  

Libya’s ongoing political conflict has greatly affected the healthcare system with 60 per cent of hospitals closed and many operating on a reduced schedule due to a lack of resources and experienced staff.

The Libyan health system was dependent on foreign doctors and nurses who left in large numbers once the civil war began in 2014.

The healthcare situation in Libya will continue to deteriorate as long as the country remains politically divided. In order to more forward as a country, it is imperative that all political factions unite for the stability of Libya.

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