Getting critical material to health facilities despite insecurity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams in Benghazi and on the Tunisia-Libya border are still working to access areas of western Libya, where medical needs are reportedly critical. Inside Libya, the insecure and volatile situation is not allowing the team to reach areas in the country’s west. “We managed to reach health facilities in Ajdabiya and Brega but were unable to continue to Ras Lanuf, which is approximately 450 kilometres west of Benghazi,” says Anne Chatelain, MSF emergency medical coordinator in Benghazi. Currently, MSF medical materials and supplies are being channeled to areas where the ongoing violence has left people with the most needs. At first glance, the buildings that make up the central pharmacy in Benghazi may seem relatively quiet. But inside, Libyan medical personnel, pharmacy managers and young volunteers are working tirelessly. Since violent clashes started in Libya on Feb. 17, they have been supplying the entire network of medical facilities in eastern Libya with urgently needed medicine and medical materials. MSF has so far channeled approximately 22 tonnes of medicine and medical materials through this supply lifeline, including surgical sets and burn kits, dressing materials, anesthetics and antibiotics. Intended to address both first-aid needs and surgical care, the material is distributed to people in areas where fighting has left the most needs.
At present, the medical supply line from Benghazi manages to reach out to a range of health facilities, but the volatility of the situation, coupled with shifting frontlines, means this supply chain is getting dangerously long. “One of our main concerns is that we must find a way to position the medical supplies closer to where the needs may be,” says Simon Burroughs, MSF emergency coordinator in Benghazi. A steady stream of ambulances and other unmarked vehicles drive up to the central pharmacy to load up with antibiotics, bone fixators, anesthesia and other urgently needed materials – like the ones supplied by MSF – to treat the wounded in areas where the fighting has been most intense and as far as 1,000 kilometres west of Benghazi. Highly insecure roads mean drivers take great risks in trying to reach medical facilities, often having to drive for hours in order to deliver the supplies.