After six months of civil war and close to a week of urban fighting, Tripoli’s hospitals and health facilities are in crisis. According to Medicins San Frontieres (MSF), the city’s health system had already been strained for months by sanctions and from casualties coming back from the frontlines. However, now that the battle is over Tripoli itself, the city’s health system is in stretched to its limit. One MSF worker, on the ground in the city, reported earlier this week that:
The hospitals that I’ve been to have been full of wounded – gunshot wounded – in the emergency departments as well as the other wards. In one health facility that I visited, they had converted some houses next to the clinic into an inpatient department. For example, in the one house I went into, patients were lying on the floor, lying on the desks that were left inside the house and had been converted into a makeshift ward for patients to stay.
The strain on Tripoli’s health facilities has been exaggerated by a shortage of health workers. Many foreign health workers, which before the war formed a large part of Libya’s health workforce, have fled the country in recent months. Other health workers remaining in the city simply cannot get to work due to fuel shortages. But there is at least some signs of hope, during the battle for the city, a “huge number of people who are responding as volunteers and who are going to the hospitals to try and support and assist where they can.”
Health facilities in the city are also running low on medical supplies. A few days into the battle, one doctor at a hospital in the capitol handed a journalist from Al Jazeera a list of supplies they needed. Amongst the items requested were mundane medical supplies, including syringes, sterile gauze, rubbing alcohol, and disposable gloves. Hopefully as the rebels strengthen their hold over the city, humanitarian organizations will be able to provide the city’s hospitals with the supplies they desperately need.