Tripoli, 18 March 2012:
Essential medication and toxicology experts have . . .[restrict]been brought into Libya by international humanitarian aid NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to help with the country’s alcohol poisoning crisis.
“We have been providing technical assistance to the Ministry of Health,” MSF Libya representative Ahmed Mukhtar told the Libya Herald. “We have provided the antidote fomepizole. This blocks the toxin produced by methanol poisoning – formic acid – for around twelve hours.”
Victims of methanol poisoning need to have it removed from their blood through dialysis. However, in countries with limited medical equipment and few dialysis machines, a poisoning crisis such as the latest one in Tripoli means resources become overstretched.
“This drug is very useful during big outbreaks such as this,” Mukhtar said, “because it buys time while the victim waits for a dialysis machine to become free.” He said that there had been only a few new cases and explained that fomepizole was administered in early stages of poisoning.
Libya had no supplies of fomepizole, an expensive drug that has limited availability throughout the world, before MSF brought these into the country.
The number of victims of Tripoli’s alcohol poisoning crisis is 1,044, including 87 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health.
The MSF toxicologists, from Oslo in Norway, will now run workshops at Tripoli Medical Centre and Tripoli Central Hospital for medical staff who may treat future cases.
“The main beneficiaries will be the medical practitioners and the laboratory technicians,” said Mukhtar, “they will be briefed on the protocol of administering fomepizole, as well as some new diagnostic methods.” [/restrict]