Why are we there?

  • Armed conflict

Our work

This is an extract from MSF's 2013 International Activity Report:

Libya’s health system is gradually recovering from the 2011 conflict, but the violence has had a lasting effect on many people’s mental health.

The World Health Organization estimates that more than a third of Libyans were directly and/or indirectly exposed to the conflict. The prevalence of severe post-traumatic stress disorder was estimated at 12.4 per cent and severe depression at 19.8 percent in 2012.                                                                                                                              

In August 2013, MSF opened a mental health center in Tripoli, the country’s capital, to help people suffering from physical and mental health problems related to violence. The center treats people who have been affected by any form of violence, be it physical, psychological, sexual, or conflict-related. Designed to provide comprehensive care for a broad spectrum of mental disorders, the center takes a multi-disciplinary approach across psychiatry, psychology, and medical services. The team also trains doctors from the Ministry of Health and has established a referral system from basic healthcare facilities and from Libyan and international NGOs.

Emergency support

An outbreak of methanol poisoning in March killed approximately 90 people in Tripoli and resulted in the hospitalization of around 1,000. MSF sent toxicology experts from Norway to offer technical assistance to the Libyan Ministry of Health and provided supplies of the antidote fomepizole, which acts by blocking the toxin produced by methanol poisoning. MSF toxicologists also carried out training for medical staff at Tripoli Medical Center and Tripoli Central Hospital to improve diagnosis and treatment in case of future outbreaks.

A team provided support to the Sebha Medical Center in the south of the country in September, when the facility treated a number of migrants suffering from burns as a result of a traffic accident. Medical supplies and materials needed for burn management were delivered, and staff received training in the appropriate clinical management of burn patients.

At the end of 2013, MSF had 35 staff in Libya. MSF began work in Libya in 2011.

Patient stories

Abdul, 13 years old

Abdul suffered second-degree burns after a bottle of benzene caught fire when bombs hit the house next to his. Three days after receiving care in a Misrata clinic, he was evacuated to a Tunisian hospital. Ten days later, he could open his eyes again.

Ali, 45 years old

Ali had been diabetic for many years. During the fighting, he was unable to receive his treatment as Misrata hospital was overwhelmed with so many seriously injured patients that it could no longer care for the chronically ill. The interruption to Ali’s treatment caused skin lesions to appear on his feet. After his evacuation from Misrata, Ali had two toes and the front of one foot amputated.