Renewing Treatments and Hopes in Benghazi

Kidney center 1Adel Mehdewi receives treatment at the Benghazi Kidney Center. Photo: ©UNDP/Nada Elfeituri.

 

Adel Mehdewi lives in Benghazi. He has been suffering from kidney failure for four years. Adel will rely on the dialysis treatment he receives from the Benghazi Kidney Center until he can receive a transplant.

Highlights

  • In the city of Benghazi, over 2,500 people require renal treatment from dialysis to transplants to regular checkups.
  • During the conflict in 2015, the stray missiles from the fighting had damaged the center and forced Jamal, Adel and others like them to struggle to find medical care in other places.
  • The Stabilization Facility for Libya (SFL) managed by the United National Development Programme (UNDP) supported the center’s dialysis facilities’ rehabilitation and provided it with an intensive care ambulance.

“It’s a difficult illness to deal with,” said Adel. “If we don’t receive treatment, it will cost us our life, and with the situation in Libya, getting treatment has become harder than ever.”

In the city of Benghazi, over 2,500 people require renal treatment from dialysis to transplants to regular checkups. The Benghazi Kidney Center is the only public facility in the city that meets the needs of these citizens.

“I went to dialysis centers in other towns, which meant driving for hours every week” explained Jamal. “Thankfully I was able to make the drive, but I know so many other people who couldn’t. Those who were not able to drive had to visit private clinics for treatment, and this was a huge financial blow. Private clinics charge a lot.”

Jamal is also a dialysis patient. Throughout two years, he received treatment at the Benghazi Kidney Center. During the conflict in 2015, the stray missiles from the fighting had damaged the center and forced Jamal, Adel and others like them to struggle to find medical care in other places.

Kidney center 2One of the newly renovated rooms of the Benghazi Kidney Center being prepared for patients to receive treatment. Photo: ©UNDP/Nada Elfeituri.

“Some of the patients I know passed away because they couldn’t receive treatment,” added Adel.

Like most other health facilities in Benghazi, the Kidney Center was closed for almost two years. During this time, Ahmed Emsallati, Head of the Quality Control Department, worked together with his colleagues to save the patients’ lives.

“We had to evacuate in February 2015, when the roads were blocked and the situation became life-threatening for our patients and staff,” Ahmed said. “The next challenge was ensuring that treatment continues despite losing our premises and machines. We had to find alternatives to make sure our patients didn’t die. We began driving them to nearby towns like Al-Marj and Tokra, but this wasn’t a sustainable solution. After a lot of hard work, we managed to open a temporary clinic in Benghazi, which has been operating until 2016.”

 Ahmed recalls with a pang of sadness entering the building for the first time after the war, and seeing the widespread damage. “All the glass was broken, and missiles caused damage to several buildings. But the worst thing was the looting. Everything was taken; our lab equipment, our ambulances, everything,” he said.

The Stabilization Facility for Libya (SFL) managed by the United National Development Programme (UNDP) supported the center’s dialysis facilities’ rehabilitation and provided it with an intensive care ambulance. Jamal, Adel and their fellow patients are now receiving their treatment at the dialysis center.

“It showed us that work is happening after the war, and it gives us hope for the future,” explained Jamal. “We spend a large amount of time here during dialysis treatment, and the renovation has made our time here less tedious.”

“We’re now aiming to repair and open our operating room and ICU, so patients don’t need to be taken to emergency rooms in other hospitals,” added Ahmed. ”We also want to be able to provide life-saving medicine to our patients so they don’t have to pay very high fees to other places to obtain it”.