Libya currently faces serious challenges from infectious diseases. Fuelled by illegal migration to and from Libya, a shortage of vaccines, and a shortage of skills the poor situation of Libya’s health sector poses serious concerns around outbreak prevention and outbreak management. In this private briefing, Dr Nagi Giumma Barakat, former Libyan Minister of Health, outlines the challenges this presents to Libya and the wider international community following its legacy of civil war.
Libya currently faces serious challenges from infectious diseases, including how to prevent outbreaks and how to prevent those that do happen from spreading out of control. Poor border control is feeding the problem as illegal migrants and workers from neighbouring countries including Egypt, Sudan, Tunisia and Algeria bring infectious diseases including HIV into Libya. Shortages of vaccines and weak vaccination programmes threaten children under two years of age with diseases such as polio and measles, particularly in rural areas and smaller cities.
In the past decade, many Libyan doctors and nurses have left the country, as have foreign workers who provided healthcare in poorer areas. This lack of expertise is exacerbated by lack of money. Libya’s main income is generated through the export of oil and gas but since the crisis, export has fallen to extremely low levels: the country currently exports around 200,000 barrels of oil per day, compared with 1.8 million barrels per day pre-revolution. As the Libyan healthcare sector imports all equipment and pharmaceuticals from abroad, this drop in income has had a particularly strong impact on health services as budgets have dropped considerably, negatively influencing all aspects of patient care across the country.
All of these factors are having a serious effect on Libya itself and also threaten the international community as Libyans travel and migrate into Europe. Help is needed from the international community to ensure that Libya is able to develop and maintain an effective prevention and treatment programme for infectious disease, and is able to make effective plans for how, in the event of a serious disease outbreak in Libya, its spread outside of the country can be prevented.
During this event, Dr Barakat will give a private briefing at RUSI on the state of healthcare services in Libya following the recent history of Civil War. Following this briefing, an interactive seminar with Dr Barakat will be held for those wishing to attend.
Dr Nagi Giumma Barakat was Minister for Health in the National Transitional Council of Libya during 2011, following the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.
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