A Finnish group of health care experts, deployed by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, is currently visiting Libya.
The group is tasked with assessing the situation of the health service system eroded by the civil war of Libya, with special focus on the organisation of mental health services and the development of the health care system.
The group of experts from the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) is chaired by Marina Erhola, Assistant Director General of the Division of Health and Social Services. The group met Assistant Under Secretary of Health of Libya, Dr Ali Al Mahdi, on 12 April.
International support for the reform of the health sector in Libya is co-ordinated by WHO, and the reform will be implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Health for Libya. Based on the previous efforts taken by WHO and the preliminary results of the visit, it can be concluded that the health sector reform in Libya will be challenging in many respects.
Strengths supporting the development of the future system also exist. Among these strengths, relatively good personnel resources and the enthusiasm of the Libyan people to create a new system in particular become emphasised.
According to Assistant Director General Erhola, the challenges are associated with the unestablished status of basic health care and the highly centralised nationally-managed system. The integration and coordination of the system also need to be strengthened. In the post-conflict situation, the scarcity of mental health services makes treatment of, for example, the post-traumatic stress disorder difficult.
Initial discussions have been conducted with the Ministry of Health for Libya and WHO on Finland’s opportunities to provide expert assistance also in the future especially for reorganisation of the whole service system, strengthening of the local national institute for health and welfare, and establishment of a national mental health programme.
The two-phase mission currently under implementation is funded by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs as part of the transition support targeted for the North African countries. In the further phases of the project, support will be provided for the stage-by-stage reorganisation of the system under WHO co-ordination. The International Affairs Unit at THL is responsible for organising the visits.
Further information: Marina Erhola, Assistant Director General, National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), tel. +358 40 1834 295; Risto Veltheim, Finland’s Special Envoy to the Libyan Transition Process, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 40 748 2697; and Jutta Immanen-Pöyry, Head of International Affairs, Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), tel. +358 40 595 2219