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Background: 2013

This is an extract from our latest Activity Report, looking back on our work in the previous year.

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 per cent in 2012.

In August 2013, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) opened a mental health centre in Tripoli, the country’s capital, to help people suffering from physical and mental health problems related to violence. The centre 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 centre 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 hospitalisation 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 first began working in the country in 2011.

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