Libya

The Problem

In Libya, the healthcare delivery system is in crisis. Compounding the shortfall of medicine, supplies,and crumbling health facilities, a significant and growing shortage of healthcare specialists is continuing to make access to care a challenge for patients of all ages. At some parts of the country, even when lacking medications are provided, there is no doctor to oversee the treatment. Escalating violence and general insecurity are also making it increasingly difficult for those sick to reach proper/affordable expert care. A 2007 WHO report found Libya's health system dangerously lacking of doctors, with 12.5 per 10,000 people in 2006 compared with 22 per 10,000 in Egypt, 23 in Jordan, 28 in the US and 33 in Sweden. According to a UKaid estimate in 2006, 40% of Libya’s health facilities had no doctors. The situation since then has only became worse. Professionals with the right medical experience and background are in serious need. Many of the foreign health workers who staffed Libya's health services have fled the country following the 2011 conflict. Stressful work conditions, direct life threats, poor financial incentives, and under investment in training are also causing a devastating brain drain in Libya’s physician pool. More and more talented Libyan physicians are leaving and often those who remain express strong intention to follow. The scarcity of domestic services has caused Libyans to flood country borders in pursuit for medical care abroad, facing more unneeded suffering and draining millions of country dollars per day. A recent study conducted by the Scientific Council for Medical Researchers at Tripoli University, revealed that ∽ 40% of Libyans surveyed have traveled abroad for health-related reasons at some point, half to seek diagnosis or second opinions. On the bright side, skilled Libyan specialists practicing abroad or in distant areas of the country are extremely motivated to help their compatriots and contribute in closing the expertise gap. However, due to family/time/work commitments not all are capable of traveling to Libya or relocating their practice. Nonetheless, their skills can still make a significant impact on the health of thousands of Libyan patients in need. The increasing demand for skilled physicians cannot be met by traditional staffing methods. The problem calls for an innovative solution, a solution that overrides current political, economic and security instabilities. Technological advancements need to be utilized to help alleviate stresses on the healthcare system in Libya, through linking the skilled Libyan physicians all over the world to patients who are in most need for their help. This is where our platform steps in.

Telemedicine as a Solution

Telemedicine has great potential to address some of the main healthcare challenges faced by the fledgling Libyan government struggling to provide adequate medical services for its people, especially those living in the remote southern region. Libyans have showed high acceptance towards telemedicine. A nationwide survey conducted by a group of researchers at Tripoli and Benghazi Universities, asked participants if they are willing to use advanced telecommunication technology to receive medical care from remotely located specialists, 9 out of 10 said “Yes”. The high approval rate - reflecting a pressing need - in addition to low regulation barriers and vast increase in mobile phone access in the post-conflict nation provides a unique opportunity for telemedicine implantation. It will allow considerable humanitarian and development benefits through promoting access, collaboration, and superior resource allocation across the country, all the while maintaining high standards of care and sparing patients the need to travel long distances to reach hospitals or to consult physicians.