Libya: MSF Intervenes in Misrata

A 12-person MSF team is working in the besieged Libyan town of Misrata, and more MSF staff are on the way.

Libya © 2011 Google Maps

A 12-person Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) team is working in the besieged Libyan town of Misrata, and more MSF staff are on the way. The team is setting up medical and surgical activities at Kasr Ahmed Hospital and providing support to Al Hikma Hospital.

Additional MSF staff arrived in Misrata on April 28 to strengthen the small team that had been there assessing local needs for 10 days. The new team members—including two surgeons, two anesthetists, three nurses, a doctor and a logistician—came on a ship from Malta with 12 tons of medicine and medical supplies.

One of the MSF surgeons on the team is now working at the Al Hikma Hospital in Misrata, the referral facility for complicated surgery, to support the Libyan medical team that has been working around the clock for several weeks.

The rest of the team is preparing to launch its activities at Kasr Ahmed Hospital, located in the eastern part of the city. Initially, the team will make improvements to the hospital's premises, restoring the operating room, and organizing recovery and treatment rooms.  

The goal is to provide medical and surgical care to the vast majority of the Misrata population, which has sought refuge in this part of the city after fleeing violent fighting in the central and southern areas; and to the African and Asian immigrants who are isolated around the port, waiting for boats to transport them back home.

Lack of Medical Facilities, Medicine and Supplies

In addition to making emergency medical, surgical, and pediatric care available in the coming days, MSF plans to increase bed capacity at Kasr Ahmed Hospital from 12 to approximately 50 beds, and to restore the operating room.

 According to our teams on site, the Misrata hospitals have extremely limited capacity—approximately 100 beds—and resources for a population of around 300,000. MSF will increase access to emergency care for children and pregnant women by installing a second operating room and increasing the number of beds. Currently, MSF is the only international medical NGO in the city.

On April 30, a boat carrying five international MSF staff left Benghazi for Misrata to join the other staff already on site. This team—composed of a midwife, two nurses, a logistician, and a psychologist—will focus on emergency OB/GYN, pediatric, and neonatal care at the Tubah Clinic. On May 4, five additional international staff—a gynecologist, anesthetist, medical manager, operating room nurse, and pediatrician—will travel from Malta to Misrata on a cargo ship, also transporting 7.5 tons of medical supplies.

Conditions Unstable at Tunisian Border

On April 27, bombs from the government armed forces damaged the hospital in Zintan, located south of the Libyan-Tunisian border. Following those attacks, the MSF teams evacuated 18 patients by ambulance, provided first aid, and stabilized them. Libyan ruler Muammar el-Qaddafi's troops had trapped the opposition's armed groups between the town of Dehiba and the Tunisian border.

Most of the people who have taken refuge in Tunisia are women and children; the men returned to Libya, either to protect their houses or take part in the fighting. Medical needs are increasing in southern Dehiba, and medical facilities require MSF's help to provide stabilization, surgery, and general medical care to the wounded. MSF is also providing mental health care in the camp housing Libyan refugees and in the host communities.