Dr. Asma Ali Elghoudi, Head of the Medical Supplies and Equipment Department at Jalaa Maternity Hospital, stores medical equipment. Photo: ©UNDP Libya/Malek Elmaghrebi.

"What is happening now in Libya and in the entire world is something new for humanity. Making people follow certain procedures and to adhere to this kind of life is very difficult, but I think is also an opportunity for humans to change for the best.”

Dr. Asma Ali Elghoudi is the Head of the Medical Supplies and Equipment Department at Jalaa Maternity Hospital. She graduated from the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Tripoli in 1994 and holds a bachelor’s degree in Medical Biology. She has been working in the health sector since 1997. She is currently studying to obtain a diploma in Medical Nutrition while leading the work in the medical store.

“I consider myself a leader, but not one who sits on an office chair and limits her work to papers only,” she says. “I devote myself entirely and dive deeply into any task, including carrying and moving around heavy and large medicine boxes to organize the store. I am part of the team and I lead by example,” explains Dr. Elghoudi.

Dr. Ahmed Shawesh, Director of Drug Stores organizes the latest materials that have arrived at the warehouse. Photo: ©UNDP Libya/Malek Elmaghrebi.

Dr. Ahmed Shawesh, Director of Drug Stores, speaks highly of his manager, Dr. Elghoudi: “I have been working for eight years hand in hand with Dr. Asma. I call her the ‘Ironwoman’ because I never thought a woman could be patient and demonstrate such perseverance and strength in such difficult times and challenging circumstances until I met her,” he confesses.

“I don’t see any difference between women and men to do my job. You just need to have the knowledge, the will and the courage to be a role model for the employees,” replies Dr. Elghoudi.

 

Dr. Elghoudi checks the expiration date on medical supplies. Photo: ©UNDP Libya/Malek Elmaghrebi.

When expertise is not enough…

“The Pharmacy and Medical Supply department is one of the most important departments in the hospital,” says Dr. Shawesh. “We are the ones who provide medical supplies, whether they are medicines, supplies or equipment for the doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to use,” he adds. “These things must always be ready and available to them. Even under difficult conditions and at times of scarcity, our team, headed by Dr. Asma, always finds a way to provide what is needed," he concludes.

During the past years, the lack of resources to maintain the drug storage area of Jalaa Hospital resulted in severe damage; ceilings and floors were destroyed, and the ventilation system ruined.

“To store medicines, we must follow certain protocols and take precautions,” says Dr. Elghoudi. “The environment must be clean and have good ventilation. The place should be wide to facilitate movement and the classification process. There should be designated places for specific materials such as expired medications, which need to be stored in a special place,” she continues. “Unfortunately, we lacked all of these," Dr. Elghoudi says.

“It was a challenge to work on that place! The smell and the moisture were very unpleasant, many employees could not handle it and they quit the job,” explains Dr. Shawesh.

“There were many attempts to fix the place, but none of them worked out in the end. I thought about quitting because the environment of the workspace was not healthy at all. I was constantly exposed to the risk of contracting respiratory diseases,” says Dr. Elghoudi.

… the willingness appears

Despite the difficult circumstances, Dr. Asma Ali Elghoudi and her team remained fully committed to providing the best service to the patients at Jalaa hospital. Their eagerness to help those who needed the most is what gives them the energy and inspires them to keep going.

“We are always ready to perform our work at the highest level, even in time of rest and sleep, we are ready to work,” says Dr. Shawesh.

Led by National and Local institutions with support of 13 international partners and the Government of Libya, The Stabilization Facility for Libya (SFL), implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has renovated the warehouses and facilities of the Medical Supplies and Equipment Section of Jalaa Maternity Hospital in Tripoli.

The rehabilitation included the maintenance of the main store, repairing the roofs, the floors and the façade, painting the entire space, treating the moisture and leakage problems, installing special doors to keep the medicines cool, and windows that provide good lighting and ventilation.

Medical Store before and after the rehabilitation. Photo: ©UNDP Libya/Malek Elmaghrebi.

The space is now equipped to store medicines and medical equipment in a healthy way, according to national health protocols. Dr. Elghoudi and her team have improved the organization of medical waste, they have a new pharmacy department, a section for expired drugs, toilets, and space for employees as well. The building also has an external deck and security grills to protect the medicines and equipment against theft.

“Now I don’t think about quitting my job, I can be working here for at least 10 years more,” says Dr. Elghoudi. “This place has become ample, clean and protected. The process of sorting and organizing medicines and equipment has become much easier and most importantly, we can now eliminate medical waste.”

“Before starting the rehabilitation, the team had the opportunity to explain to the engineers the kind of design we were envisioning for this place,” says Dr. Shawesh. “All that we planned became a reality and in line with stringent specifications.

Dr. Manal Al-Faqih, Deputy Director-General of Jalaa Maternity Hospital, states:

“The Stabilization Facility for Libya has done great work. I offer my sincere gratitude to everyone who contributed to the implementation of this project.”

Medical Store entrance before and after the rehabilitation. Photo: ©UNDP Libya/Malek Elmaghrebi.

 

Ready for what may come in the short and long term

In order to be able to deal with the possible cases of COVID-19, Jalaa Maternity Hospital has designated a section of the hospital to care for patients affected by the coronavirus. Dr. Elghoudi and her team have equipped this section with the medical resources needed to save lives of their patients.

“The hospital is on a state of emergency and my department is ready to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Dr. Elghoudi.  “I have been working 10 hours a day to prepare the warehouse to be able to provide support to the hospital during this crisis.”

Dr, Asma Ali Elghoudi is married and has two children and her work affects her personally:

"When I go home from work, I sterilize my clothes and all my belongings and put them in an isolated place. I stopped all social relations, so I have not seen my father for weeks."

“The conflict did not prevent me from helping the hospital to save lives. COVID-19 won't do it either,” she concludes.

Dr. Asma Ali Elghoudi at her renovated workspace. Photo: ©UNDP Libya/Malek Elmaghrebi.

UNDP’s Stabilization Facility for Libya has been supporting Greater Tripoli since 2016. The Facility has delivered recently twenty semi-trailer refuse collectors, a generator and five sewage suction trucks to different municipalities in Greater Tripoli as well as provided equipment to 65 health centers. In 2019, SFL has also renovated 60 schools, Jalaa maternity Hospital and Tripoli Central Hospital, which is now the health center designated to testing COVID-19 cases and to providing health care to patients in Tripoli affected by the coronavirus. Several municipalities around Tripoli are also using the sewage suction trucks to clean and sanitize public spaces to avoid the spread of the virus.

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