By Sami Zaptia.
London, 8 January 2021:
Tripoli University Hospital (TUH), Libya’s busiest hospital, is struggling to keep operating with no budgets and huge debts. It has had to rely on donations to continue. The revelation was made at a press conference held at the hospital by its head, Nabil Alageli, on Wednesday.
Alageli gave an overview of the hospital’s services to patients during 2020 after the hospital came in for criticism for its performance. He blamed the government for failing to provide the needed finances for the hospital.
The TUH head highlighted many of the obstacles, difficulties and problems that prevented the provision of services to patients and led to the closure of most departments. These included a shortage of local and foreign medical staff and the shortage of medical supplies, including medical devices and medicines, as well as the poor infrastructure of the hospital.
He described the situation in his hospital over the last four months as very bad due to the lack of medical supplies in 2020 of which only a quarter of the required quantity had been received.
Local and foreign staff leaving
He complained that foreign auxiliary medical personnel had left work while local medical personnel moved to private sector clinics.
Medication shortages included anaesthesia, nursing medicines and (cancer) chemicals. On the later, he said his hospital needs about 4,000 doses of chemicals while it received about 200 doses.
Closure of most departments
These shortages are threatening the closure of most of the medical specialities in the hospital as a result of these shortages – which the hospital needs unknown quantities depending on demand.
Alageli complained that his hospital receives between 30,000 to 42,000 cases per month through the A&E Department, stressing that this needs a huge budget and continuous medical supplies. He added that although the hospital’s 2019 and 2020 budgets had not been disbursed, the hospital, nevertheless, completed some of its necessary work and requirements.
Private donations from businesses and staff
These were covered financially through donations from private companies and businesspeople and the efforts of medical staff.
Accumulating debts of LD 30 million
He pointed out that due to the lack of disbursement of the budget to the hospital, its debts now amounted to LD 30 million, including supplies, equipment and medicines.
The revelations by the TUH head will send shockwaves through Libya that the flagship hospital nominated as the beacon of the Serraj government’s health reform has failed so miserably.
It will lead to the rerun of all the arguments about weather Libya’s health sector can ever succeed in providing quality healthcare or will it continue to be a bottomless pit for state subsidies.
It will definitely continue raising questions about the ability of the Serraj government to ‘‘govern’’ as well as about Serraj’s personal leadership qualities.
Questions will be asked about where the annual health budgets are being spent and how come other sectors are visibly receiving budgets, while the TUH seems to have been left budget-less – surviving on business and TUH staff donations.
How can a government claim to be governing if it is actively leading to its citizen’s ill-health if not their death – by failing to provide a budget for essential medicines?