By Ajnadin Mustafa.
Tripoli, 2 November 2015:
Nalut hospital has become the first Libyan state-run infirmary to start charging for drugs and treatment . . .[restrict]in an effort to head off financial crisis.
Nalut’s management, whose hospital is, after Ghariyan, the second most important in the Jebel Nafusa in the west, said that it had set a range of charges for everything from prescriptions to surgery. The fees are nevertheless still modest. The hospital said that patients would have to pay LD50 for surgery.
The shortage of money is compounding the problems faced by hospitals throughout the country. These range from a lack of drugs and medical consumables to unserviced equipment and a shortage of medical technicians, doctors and nurses. The staff issue has much to do with the departure of foreigners, both because they are not being paid and can no longer endure the lack of security.
Benghazi Medical Centre is pressing ahead its efforts to meet a shortfall in trained personnel by encouraging people to volunteer to work in the hospital. First mooted in the summer, the administration’s plan is that the volunteers could take on non-medical or unskilled care work. The chairman of the BMC crisis committee, Said Abdulhadi was reported by the news agency Lana as saying that the safety of patients was the main concern but turning to volunteers was a legal solution to the current lack of staff.
However, a long-standing concern in many hospitals has been the lack of basic cleanliness and hygiene, which is a management rather than a medical issue. This has caused deadly outbreaks of infections, not least among new-born babies in maternity units.
The latest instance of such deaths was reported yesterday in Zawia where two babies died from infection in the town’s teaching hospital. One of the maternity unit’s nurses is reported to have said that he had warned the management about the outbreak but nothing had been done. Six babies there died of infection earlier in the year. The hospital’s problems are not new. In August 2003 the entire maternity unit was shut down completely after an outbreak.
Nor are Zawia’s troubles strictly medical. In the latest of a series of violent attacks, on Sunday night armed men stormed the building and fired shots inside, injuring an unknown number of people.