A healthcare crisis currently exists in Libya due to the ongoing conflict. The vast majority of foreign health workers have left the country, which has left hospitals severely understaffed. The militarisation of healthcare facilities has also affected access. The looting and destruction of medical facilities have led to medicine and equipment shortages and overall increases in the price of medicines.
Public healthcare in Libya
With the healthcare system in such a state, organisations such as Doctors Without Borders have a large presence in the country. It has set up mobile clinics in Tripoli and surrounding areas. These clinics mostly focus on infections, diarrhoea and skin diseases.
Libyan locals often pursue medical facilities abroad for the more chronic conditions that plague the country’s population – such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
It is therefore highly recommended that expats consider medical options abroad if a serious condition arises. That means a medical insurance package should provide for emergency repatriation.
Private healthcare in Libya
Medical facilities in Libya are limited, and it is essential for expats to become a member of a private clinic.
Medilink is a private clinic that functions according to either a basic membership and pay-as-you-go service fees, or all-inclusive style membership. The Medilink Clinic in Tripoli is staffed by English-speaking expat doctors, and is a popular choice for those accustomed to Western standards of healthcare. The clinic offers family and emergency services. Many expats employed by oil companies and other corporate employees and their families are known to be paying members.
Health insurance in Libya
It's important that expats have private health insurance while in Libya. Nonetheless, many times doctors will expect payment in cash immediately. Still, private healthcare provides safety and superior service to the ailing public sector.
Expats should negotiate private health insurance as part of their employment contracts.
Upon arrival, expats should register at a clinic of their choice, and carry the clinic card on their person as a means of identification in case of an accident.
Pharmacies and medicines in Libya
Pharmacies and medication in Libya are limited, as there are medication shortages in the country. Expats should ensure they pack all essential medication for the duration of their trip. It is important that expats reach out to their consulate or embassy to verify the details of medication allowances and restrictions.
Health hazards in Libya
Expats will need several vaccinations to travel safely in Libya. Hepatitis A and B, COVID-19 and typhoid are all prevalent in Libya and new arrivals should ensure they protect themselves against these infectious diseases. It is also recommended for expats to avoid tap water or swimming in fresh water.
New arrivals should also protect themselves from flea and mosquito bites as far as possible. Rabid animals are a commonality in Libya, so expats should avoid petting or touching unfamiliar animals while in the country.
Emergency Services in Libya
Emergency services in Libya are largely inadequate. In an emergency situation, expats should try to contact humanitarian aid organisations for assistance. Failing which, expats can dial 1515 for an ambulance and police services.