The World Health Organisation in a new report says no fewer than one in 7 Libyans needs mental and psychological health care.
Citing the ongoing political and security crises in the country, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO stated that the coronavirus epidemic in Libya is the most serious in the North African region.
The WHO stated in its report of the epidemiological situation in Libya, that between the 12th and 26th of November 2020, Libya recorded a total of 161 deaths per 1 million people is “second only to Tunisia” in the North Africa region.
The report states that in the last two weeks, Libya has recorded a 13 percent increase in the number of COVID-19 infections, during the reporting period, new deaths increased by 16 percent, bringing the number to 1,125.
The WHO pointed out that the impact of the ongoing political and security crisis in Libya and the coronavirus epidemic have affected the mental health and standard of living of Libyans, migrants and refugees.
Libya now has 82,809 confirmed coronavirus infections, of which 27,808 are still active, 53,818 have been treated and 1,183 patients have died since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country in March.
The WHO also estimates that mental health problems more than doubled when populations are affected by conflict, adding that “it is likely that one in seven Libyans, nearly one million people, will require mental health care for conditions such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder”.
A survey conducted by the UN agency in 2019 showed that mental health services were available in only five cities — Tripoli, Benghazi, Sebha, Ajdabiya and Misrata.
It lamented that “even before the beginning of the conflict, six hospitals, one health clinic and four primary health care facilities were providing mental health services”.
After decades of neglect, it may take years to create services capable of responding to emerging needs, the WHO said, pointing out that “there is only one mental health specialist per 300,000 inhabitants in Libya, while “neighbouring Tunisia has one mental health specialist per 100,000 inhabitants”.
The WHO announced that it will soon launch a two-year project to strengthen mental health services throughout Libya.
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