“We couldn’t do much for our patients but examine them and make a diagnosis. The clinic was full of debris and contaminated with wastewater,” said Dr Mohammed Samir.
In 2014, violent clashes in Sebha, Libya resulted in hundreds of fatalities. People were forced to leave their homes, and buildings and public infrastructure were extensively damaged.
Among them was the Golden Clinic, the second biggest public health facility in the city. It was established in late 1980s to provide 24-hour free care. After the conflict it struggled with minimal facilities. Some services such as immunization were interrupted and others were not available every day.
“We didn’t have appropriate offices, we were sitting on broken chairs, and using worn tables. Doors were in pieces, walls were cracked and marked by bullets,” said Khayria Mohammed, Director of Finance and Administration.
The staff pressed on, doing the best they could .
Dr Samir has been a pediatrician at Golden Clinic for seven years. He is dedicated to his job and does his best to serve his patients. He seems deeply affected when explaining that he was not able to provide the treatment that people needed.
“We were asking our patients to go to expensive private clinics or travel to unsafe areas to get better healthcare in the general hospital. Some of them couldn’t make it,” he says.
That changed when the clinic was renovated last year by the European Union-funded ‘Strengthening Local Capacities for Resilience and Recovery’ project, which was implemented by UNDP.
Thanks to this support, the clinic and staff have been able to treat more people.
“I have been working here for 20 years and the facility has never been renovated like this before. This is really amazing,” Khayria Mohammed says. “This rehabilitation helped us to restructure all departments and organize administration services. Now, we are working in decent offices.”
The clinic is the only public health facility in Sebha offering vaccinations. As the working conditions improve, the clinic management plans to hire more staff to stay open around the clock once more.
“If we were able to treat 20,000 persons in 2018 while only six working hours per day, one can imagine how many people it will be possible to receive if the clinic opens 24-hours a day,” says Abu Eidbah Emhemad, Director.
The project is also supporting Sebha’s Water and Sanitation Company with the design of the main sewage pipeline and has delivered three generators. And Sebha’s central park is under construction as part of the same initiative.
Aimed at improving basic services, community security and economic recovery in Libya, the initiative works in coordination with the Ministry of Local Governance and the Tripoli, Sabratha, Sebha, Murzuq, Benghazi and Al Kufra municipalities. It is supporting peace programmes and promoting dialogue across different communities, while working on 33 projects to rehabilitate critical infrastructure.
Sebha’s Golden Clinic is vital to the health of families in the city, especially those who cannot afford to pay.
“It is disheartening to see your child sick when you don’t have enough money for medical treatment. I am really thankful for this service,” said Ibrahim Abubakur who had brought his son Imdallah, 10, in for treatment.
Imdallah is just one of many children and babies who’re benefiting from the clinic’s increased capacity.
“I used to examine between 10 to 20 children per day by working three days a week. Now, it is up to 60 children daily, most of them are newborns,” Dr Samir says.
Crucially, the vaccination programme is once again up and running — about 180 children are receiving inoculations every week.
“I come here when one of my children gets sick, but today, I brought my baby for vaccination,” Om Aseal, a mother, said. “I am very happy with the renovation, the department looks great, and is providing very good services.”