By Libya Herald reporter.
Tunis, 5 May 2016:
The UN deputy special envoy to Libya, Ali Al-Za’tari, has called for greater support for . . .[restrict]Sebha Medical Centre where 12 babies are reported to have died the second half of April. According to local officials the deaths were caused by a bacterial infection in the centre.
“There are twelve families in the south of Libya grieving the loss of their newborns, when simple assistance might have prevented their deaths,” said Za’tari, who is also the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya. “It is a great shame that we are seeing the health standards of Libya decline to this point and that 12 newly born children had to die due to lack of basic facilities. As humanitarians, there is more we can do if given the resources.”
An initial local investigation into the deaths has blamed “a severe shortage” of medical staff in the maternity unit, a lack of awareness among relevent medical staff of the importance of cleanliness and sterilization, no controls on visits by members of the public, and an infestation of rodents, cockroaches and other insects, as well as bacteria from elsewhere. Equipment, too, the investigation said, was not being sterilised.
“Libya’s hospitals are desperately understaffed and under-resourced, and preventable deaths due to infection and poor resources are on the rise,” Za’tari added in his statement. “We have repeatedly called for funding to support a system stripped of medical expertise and lacking essential equipment like sterilisation kits.”
His statament noted that families throughout southern Libya relied on the Sebha Medical Centre for major mother and child health facilties. “Short of experienced personnel, the hospital is struggling to provide quality of care, with insufficient neonatal incubators and a high rate of bacterial infection placing susceptible infants at risk.”
Following last month’s deaths, Sebha Medical Centre is reported to be planning to install new incubators and to have started in-house courses on infection control. [/restrict]