I once heard a pro Gaddafi individual say… “why are you revolting? You have everything. You travel, you have a car, you have a house, you eat and drink, you have security, you have healthcare, you have freedom to do as you wish…”
Well, I don’t want this to be an argument about pro vs anti gaddafi. I just want to focus on one of his points above…. Our health care system. Here is a story about from one of our members. A member of the Free Generation Movement.
Some years ago in central Tripoli, there was a road traffic accident where my friend was driving. A young boy was accidentally hit and was injured. As so often happens in Libya, there was no attempt to call the nonexistent emergency service and the young boy was taken to hospital by our friend and passersby. This hospital (AbuSleem Hospital) was ill-equipped to deal with the spinal injuries involved and the parents of the boy (along with our friend who remained with him) were told that a spinal consultant was needed. The hospital offered no contact details or made no attempt to contact this consultant.
Eventually, through asking around, it was established who the on-call spinal surgeon for Tripoli was that night. The very concept of an on-call surgeon for the whole of Tripoli is in itself a travesty. A call was made to the surgeon. His response was that he was in Zliten and it would be impossible for him to attend Tripoli that night. An alternative was suggested – take the boy to a private hospital where he can be stabilised until the morning (or rather when a doctor becomes available). It was advised that the boy be transferred in an ambulance with what is called triple immobilization to avoid further spinal injury.
The family informed the hospital of what was needed. It is poignant to now mention that AbuSleem is a main Accident and Emergency Unit in Tripoli (Along with Alzawiyah Street Central Hospital). The hospital told the family that there were no ambulances available. The family argued that the parking lot was full of ambulances. They were told that these “did not work” and were later told that these “were not for the hospital”.
The family decided to try and hire a private ambulance. They made numerous calls around the city to no avail. They were then told about a location where ambulances could be found. At this location they rang the door bell and knocked on the gate, behind which were parked ambulances. No one answered. Eventually they found a phone number which they called and after repeated attempts, they got through to someone in the building. This person responded by saying “I’m sorry I can’t help, I have just returned from Tunis and I am tired”. Astonishing.
Eventually, the family were able to find a private ambulance to take their boy to the necessary unit. The ambulance charged 220 Libyan Dinars for a 10km journey.
This, my friends, is the healthcare system which provides for our people. A system which has been built over 42 years. A system which has benefited from years of oil wealth and a mercifully small population. A system, apparently, the pride of Africa and of MENA.
This, my friends, is Gaddafi’s Libya.