As a step to respond to the threat of COVID-19 in all regions of Libya, authorities took a set of decisions, including disinfection and cleaning campaigns for streets and municipal facilities, testing people who may have been affected by the coronavirus, and distributing medical supplies to all health facilities in the country.
In March 2020, when the Libyan government declared a state of emergency in all parts of the country, Bani Walid Municipality implemented precautionary measures to protect the city from the threat of COVID-19.
“During the first 25 days, we locked down the city, launched disinfection campaigns in all streets and outskirts of the city, and put in place 24-hour security and health patrols,'' says Mr. Muhamed Mubarek, Deputy Chairperson of Bani Walid Municipal Council.
A city with a lot of transit
Bani Walid, located in the south of Tripoli, is linked to several cities, therefore, the risk for people to contract the coronavirus is high as the city experiences heavy transit.
''The rate of people being affected by the virus was expected to be very high due to the strategic location of the city; it links the East with the West and the North with the South. In addition, it has a heavy crossing and trade movements with a population of over 150,000 including host community, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), and migrants,'' declares Mr. Ayman Al-Hawadi, Director of Public Health Department in Bani Walid.
Joining local efforts to face the new health threat
Today, the medical facility allows the health sector in the city not only to keep medical supplies in safe conditions, but also to provide 21 health centers in the municipality with necessary protective equipment and other supplies to help the staff take care of patients who may have acquired COVID-19.
''When the state of emergency started in the country, we received medical supplies from the Government and other partners. Supplies were kept on medical stores that were recently rehabilitated by SFL. In fact, before the rehabilitation works, the stores were in a bad shape and unusable. Today, they are helping the health sector a lot to keep safely medicines, supplies and equipment, '' says Aymen. ''We even managed to open the central pharmacy that provides medicine for free to people in Bani Walid,'' he adds.
The health sector in Bani Walid also received three ambulances and several generators. The support allowed the authorities to improve services such as transferring patients in critical condition from various locations to the General Hospital. In times of coronavirus pandemic, these ambulances are on standby and ready to intervene in case of emergency.
"Mobile medical support teams with ambulances were deployed in most areas of the city to supervise disinfection operations in coordination with the General Company for Cleaning Services. The Ambulance Services also were prepared and stationed the vehicles in various areas of the city, ready in case a rapid response was needed," explains Ayman.
Bani Walid local authorities were facing a challenge of managing public hygiene and keeping the city clean. With SFL support, they received two garbage trucks to help collect street garbage, one suction truck to help the sewage company to perform in better conditions and two mobile insecticide sprayers.
During COVID-19, that equipment helped to stop the spread of the pandemic.
"After consulting and coordinating with the Municipality, we took over the process of spraying disinfectants in different parts of the city and its suburbs, for example in streets and public and private institutions," states Mr. Mustafa Abu Zaid, Director of the General Company for Cleaning Services in Bani Walid. "We also worked to collect waste from streets and organize the disposal process. The campaign lasted for 25 days. The technical and administrative teams were fully committed to carry it out successfully, " he adds.
Bani Walid ready to face future health challenges
"We are now ready at any time to take actions when there is any threat that requires our response. Our plan for the next period includes disinfection of the most frequently visited public places such as mosques and schools to be ready when they reopen," states Ayman.
"UNDP’s SFL supports to Bani Walid contributed a lot on the ground to address the COVID-19 threat in the city. This would have been very difficult if we did not get this support. It really saved the city," explained Muhamed.
"All that has been delivered to the [Cleaning Services] company is working with high efficiency and contributing to provide better services to residents in the city, whether before the pandemic, during COVID-19 campaigns, or even in the future, and we will be always ready to respond, " says Mustafa.
"We are grateful to those who provided support to the city of Bani Walid and its people. I would like to thank SFL, UNDP Libya and the partners for contributing to making the life better in the city, " Muhamed states.
Through SFL, UNDP delivered two garbage trucks, three ambulances, one suction truck, nine generators, 17 water pumps and 2000 m high voltage cables to the energy sector. It rehabilitated eight schools and one medical store. Future support will include renovation of Bani Walid University and the General Hospital, supply of four dental chairs, two refrigerated cars and four water pumps.
"In the Women's Unit in the Bani Walid Red Crescent, we provide and distribute free gloves to small shops, and we make sure that they use them continuously. Now we are planning to manufacture masks and distribute them to medical staff and visitors in the hospitals and health centers, concludes Ms. Moufida Al-Falaq.