In 2011, there were only 12 psychiatrists in all of Libya, according to Hamidi, and at a time when the country was going through a dramatic rise in violence, depression, post-traumatic stress disorders and trauma. In fact, this sector faces a huge shortage of facilities, medication and human resources. Approximately one percent or less of total health expenditure is are targeted on this sector.
Therefore, there is a call for action for a multi-sectoral approach for mental health and psycho-social support in Libya, according to Dr. Amjad Shagroni, focal point for Mental Health at the National Centre for Disease Control.
The role of the EU is crucial in supporting mental health and wellbeing to overcome these challenges. “The conflict has brought with it trauma,” said Bettina Muscheidt. “And trauma can only be addressed by improving services on the side of mental health care and psycho-social care.”
Non-communicable disease management
In terms of non-communicable diseases, cancer is the third-leading killer in Libya with 6,000 cases diagnosed in 2016, according to Dr. Ismail Siala. A large factor in the prominence of cancer-related deaths is late diagnosis and lifestyle changes linked to limited physical activity and weight gain. The answer to the challenge lies in early detection and diagnosis, effective treatment, adherence to standards and protocols, and availability of cancer medicines.
Nearly 45 percent of deaths in Libya are related to cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, by improving health services, there is a chance of a better quality of life.
As for EU support and ongoing projects, the overall objective is to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and quality of health service delivery in Libya.
“We, as EU, will make sure on our side that there is no health intervention in Libya happening outside of coordination mechanisms led by the Ministry of Health. As co-chair of the Health Sector Committee we will continue to strengthen coordination and pursue meaningful dialogue with our Libyan counterparts creating synergies between the different coordination platforms established in Tunisia and Libya.”