In Libya’s city of Benghazi and the wider district, Humanity & Inclusion provides physical rehabilitation and psychological support in five health centers as well as in the homes of people with disabilities.
Ritaj is a 12-year-old girl living with a condition called hydrocephalus. She cannot walk, so Ritaj’s aunt takes care of her. Until recently, she was struggling every day to face all of the difficulties of living in a country at war while being the sole carer for a child with severe disabilities.
Humanity & Inclusion has provided rehabilitation care to 1,400 people like Ritaj in Benghazi since April 2019. Teams pay particular attention to caregivers, whom the association advises and supports.
Ritaj's old wheelchair was not adapted to her size and needs, and had caused a deformity above her pelvis. Humanity & Inclusion provided a new, custom-fit wheelchair, as well as a toilet seat. This changed not only Ritaj’s daily life but her aunt’s too. Humanity & Inclusion also taught them some simple physical therapy exercises, which have gradually allowed Ritaj greater autonomy washing.
Home visits are essential for women with disabilities as none of the rehabilitation facilities have inpatient services for them.
Long wait lists for rehab
The Benghazi region's medical facilities are all overwhelmed. Humanity & Inclusion works in five health and rehabilitation centers, including the large Benghazi Medical Center. This fully equipped but under-staffed center receives patients from all over the eastern region, with some people traveling many miles for treatment. Due to capacity issues, physical therapy patients face a long waiting list to receive treatment.
In addition to providing care, Humanity & Inclusion provides training for medical staff like nurses and doctors on how to better serve their patients with disabilities. This can involve how they treat and move a patient, or how to better use X-ray equipment with patients with limited mobility. So far, Humanity & Inclusion has trained 18 medical staff in eight medical facilities.
An exhausted population
In Benghazi, electricity cuts are a daily occurrence. The price of basic food items (cooking oil, rice, pasta) has exploded in recent years. The price of oil has tripled in 12 months. Cash withdrawals are limited to a handful per year. Finally, all schools have been closed since last March, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The population has been suffering for years from the conflict and its social and economic consequences. This is especially true those who have been displaced by violence: Benghazi hosts several thousand displaced people from Tawergha, Murziq, Tarhouna, Sirt, etc., which overburden the social and medical services of the city. four camps for displaced people are located in and around the city but many others live in rented houses or with relatives.
In such a complicated context, many people suffer from stress, depression and anxiety. Humanity & Inclusion teams work in camps for the displaced, providing counselling and mental health care to individuals suffering from high stress, anxiety, depression and other severe psychological distress.
Humanity & Inclusion in Libya
- In 2019, Humanity & Inclusion assisted 6,000 people with disabilities or injuries in the health sector, including 2,600 people with disabilities and 3,800 caregivers through rehabilitation care, 4,500 of whom received psychosocial support.
- Nearly 1,000 people with mental health problems and their caregiver received psychosocial support from Humanity & Inclusion in 2019.
- 9,400 people were reached through mental health communication campaigns in Tripoli, Misrata and Benghazi (Information video on Facebook and Youtube, information brochures, etc.).
- In 2019, 240 people were trained by Humanity & Inclusion to identify people with disabilities and/or psychosocial stress. 38 medical staff were trained on mental health and psychosocial support.
- Humanity & Inclusion has set up 4 reception centers in primary health structures. They provide rehabilitation assistance and psychosocial support.
- In 2019, Humanity & Inclusion distributed 2,200 mobility aids (crutches, walkers, etc.).
© Humanity & Inclusion
Ritaj sits in an older wheelchair during an initial physical therapy session at home with Humanity & Inclusion.