Special Visits Help Libya Field Teams

Senior staff members were dispatched across the country to provide training and support in remote areas.

Humanitarian needs caused by catastrophic flooding have persisted in northeast Libya since torrential rains from Storm Daniel caused two dams to collapse upstream from the coastal city of Derna in September 2023.

The disaster exacerbated already-limited capacity in hospitals and primary healthcare (PHC) facilities—characterised by medication and staff shortages, infrastructure damage and insufficient equipment. During a rapid-needs assessment conducted in December, International Medical Corps’ mobile medical teams identified significant shortages in both skilled personnel and essential medical resources at the PHCs in Benghazi.

Demand for mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) services is also on the rise within affected communities. The national MHPSS hotline, supported by International Medical Corps, is experiencing an increase in callers reporting concerns that include overwhelming stress, persistent low mood, disrupted sleep and heightened anxiety. These issues mostly arise from the uncertainty surrounding recovery from the disaster.

To help meet these ongoing needs, our Libya mission has been dispatching senior staff members across the country to conduct assessments and provide health and MHPSS training and guidance for field teams.

Libya and Somalia Country Directors Visit Eastern Region Field Sites

Libya Country Director Talal Burnaz visited the eastern region of the country to provide overall support to the mission and the field team.

“It was incredible to see how the team has grown since the start of the emergency response to the flooding crises,” Talal says “We went from a small team at the beginning of the emergency to a large team providing multi-sectoral services to the affected population in eight municipalities in northeast Libya. The dedication of our staff and their eagerness to serve people in need is appreciated by local and national stakeholders. Our ultimate objective is to facilitate Libya’s transition from recovery to resilience in the wake of the flooding.”

In addition to staff, Talal met with national stakeholders. The Minister of Health invited Talal to represent International Medical Corps at a coordination meeting to strengthen collaboration between the Ministry of Health, various international organisations and the Libyan Civil Society Commission.

Former Somalia Deputy Country Director Njoroge Kamau, who is now Somalia Country Director, also deployed temporarily to support the Libya mission, visiting several PHCs in the eastern region and meeting with the emergency medical teams to monitor their work and assess their needs.

Meeting with Managers

Medical Coordinator Dr. Ahmed Shafter visited PHCs in Al Bayada, Al Bayda, Benghazi, Derna, Sousa, Tobruk and Tokra. The purpose of these visits was to meet with the health teams for the first time, oversee their work and address any needs or challenges they had.

During his visit, Dr. Ahmed’s goal was to make sure that our teams, especially those with new recruits, were receiving the best possible support to deliver high-quality healthcare services and meet the significant humanitarian needs at the PHCs.

“I was deeply impressed by what I observed— the team members’ professionalism, compassion and unwavering dedication to their mission,” Dr. Ahmed says. “Every staff member—including nurses, doctors, community health workers and pharmacists—played a crucial role. They were all united in their shared objective of easing suffering and saving lives.”

Somalia Deputy Country Director Njoroge Kamau, Tokra PHC manager, Field Site Manager Abdelmeneim Eldinali, Medical Coordinator Ahmed Shafter, Country Director Talal Burnaz.
Somalia Deputy Country Director Njoroge Kamau, Tokra PHC manager, Field Site Manager Abdelmeneim Eldinali, Medical Coordinator Ahmed Shafter, Country Director Talal Burnaz.

Dr. Ahmed was pleased to observe a strong and positive rapport between the teams and the populations they serve. “The community members expressed satisfaction with the quality of care provided, as well as their appreciation for the dedication and compassion of the healthcare professionals,” he explains.

Because of the 1,300 km (800 mi) distance between our main Libya office in Tripoli and Derna, Dr. Ahmed gathered the Derna health team after a meeting and arranged an online call with their project managers to provide encouragement and support. The project managers assessed the team’s needs and challenges to help them to perform their duties and provide services to their community with greater ease.

“Your remarkable work fills us with pride and gratitude,” said Programme Manager Asma Alghariani, speaking to Dr. Ahmed. “Thank you for your outstanding efforts in helping the community and achieving the project goals.”

“Distance may separate us, but our commitment to serving the community of Derna unites us,” said Programme Coordinator Hafed Algabasi. “Together, we will overcome every challenge and bring hope and healing to those in need.”

A Pharmaceutical Visit

Senior Pharmacist Dr. Osama Abdulgani monitored and inspected various warehouses in Derna and Benghazi so he could provide input and on-the-job monitoring to help pharmacists improve storage capacity and make other necessary arrangements.

Dr. Ahmed Erhiem conducts a training session in Benghazi.
Dr. Ahmed Erhiem conducts a training session in Benghazi.

“During my visit, my goal was to meet with pharmacists in the field, listen to them and guide them on good storage and dispensing practices,” Dr. Osama explains “We visited the main warehouses in Benghazi and Derna to assess their needs and the requirements for proper storage. The visit was productive and effective, thanks to the dedication and commitment of the pharmacists.”

Building Capacity

In February, International Medical Corps conducted a three-day training session for PHC nurses to ensure the continuity of essential healthcare in 10 supported municipalities in Benghazi and Derna. International Medical Corps doctors with experience in emergency medicine, paediatrics and reproductive health conducted the training sessions—which were attended by 29 nurses in Benghazi and 32 nurses in Derna—in collaboration with the relevant health authorities.

The training sessions covered basic and theoretical nursing skills in PHC settings, including patient triaging, nursing communication skills, clinical response to emergency cases and best practices in patient referral.

Dr. Ahmed Shafter conducts a training session.
Dr. Ahmed Shafter conducts a training session.

That same month, MHPSS Specialist Dr. Abdurauf Elsharie conducted psychological first aid (PFA) training for a dozen staff members—including doctors, gender-based violence staff and MHPSS counsellors— in Derna and the surrounding areas. The participants were eager to practice the principles of PFA (“prepare, look, listen and link”) so that they could provide better support to people who need mental health services.

MHPSS staff members from Al Bayada, Al Bayda, Benghazi, Derna and Tobruk attended the training session with Dr. Abdurauf and MHPSS Manager Dr. Abdulmonem Alhelu, discussing challenges and reviewing topics related to their roles as MHPSS counsellors and mental health case managers.

“It was a good opportunity to meet the work team and understand their needs and the challenges they face in their work,” says Dr. Abdurauf. “Overall, the team is motivated to provide psychological services to the beneficiaries and has a greater desire to receive additional training that will enable them to provide more services, such as cognitive behavioural therapy and behaviour modification for children.”

Help us save lives.