Libya health policies fail to contain coronavirus

London- Libyan authorities have failed to contain the novel coronavirus, with the number of infections growing rapidly and the health sector unable to provide health care, warns ImpACT International for Human Rights Policies.

The Libyan government did not plan for emergency procurement of COVID-19 tests and personal protective equipment (PPE), or for training health workers—causing a sharp increase in the spread of the coronavirus, says the London-based think tank in a policy brief.

It is still unclear how 500 million Libyan dinars (LYD) allocated for COVID-19 by the Government of National Accord is being spent 

- Rasha Kaloti, a researcher at ImpACT International

“It is still unclear how the 500 million Libyan dinars (LYD) allocated for COVID-19 by the Government of National Accord is being spent,” says Rasha Kaloti, a researcher at ImpACT International. “There remains large financial and capacity shortages, with a significant need for PPE across the country.”

She adds that the Libyan health system lacks the capacity needed to respond to the pandemic. For example, the country has only 79 intensive care units (ICUs) in its hospitals, and there was a delay in determining which hospitals are responsible for treating people with COVID-19. Although two hospitals in the east finally were named, they have only 12 ICU beds available15.

Over 1 million Libyans (one third of whom are children) are in need of humanitarian assistance as a result of the political instability and insecurity. The most essential humanitarian needs are personal protection devices, basic household goods and food; ample, clean drinking water; and vital services such as education and health care,” ImpACT International reported in its policy brief.

The organization further stresses that during the rule of former strongman Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan health system was largely reliant on foreign health workers and thus it was not sustainable9. The health system continued to decline post-Gaddafi and was further damaged during the 2014 civil war.

There is poor coordination between state and non-state actors, and the role of the private health care system in the COVID-19 response remains minimal, even though the sector is growing

“There is poor coordination between state and non-state actors, and the role of the private health care system in the COVID-19 response remains minimal, even though the sector is growing,” ImpACT International concludes.

To overcome the challenges of coronavirus pandemic, ImpACT International recommends that a ceasefire between the GNA and LNA be maintained, and that all humanitarian-access restrictions be lifted to ensure timely delivery of health and humanitarian care for those in need.

A stronger and more collaborative health system is required, in which all state and non-state actors, including those in the private sector, have clear roles and work in coordination to avoid duplication of work or insufficient response.

ImpACT International also is calling for international agencies to build and strengthen local capacity, including short- and long-term training of health workers and rapid-response teams.

 

To view the full policy brief, click HERE

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