Exhausted & Deprived: Dr. Shennib’s recollections from past medical visit to Benghazi

Part I: This is the first installment in a series of NCUSLR Founding President Dr. Hani Shennib's personal reflections while delivering medical assistance in Libya.

At the enormous three-tower Benghazi Medical Center, I took off my stethoscope to examine what I expected to be the last of 52 patients I saw that day. I looked out the window and then at my watch. It was getting darker, minutes closer to 8 o’clock at night, and patients are still being brought into the examination area. Many had been in line since 7 o’clock in the morning hoping to get an expert opinion. Adults and children with cardiovascular diseases awaiting critical treatment not available to them in Libya came after hearing about our Surgical Team’s Medical Mission to eastern Libya.

Cyrenaica, the eastern region of Libya that is the size of France, Spain and Italy together, is under the control of Marshal Haftar’s Libyan National Army and supposedly a temporary government by decree of Libya’s House of Representatives in 2014. The problem with this authority is that the UN and the international community have chose not to accept it, and alternatively they recognize a governmental authority in Tripoli. To complicate things further, Libyans from all walks of life, including its parliament, refuse to recognize UN-appointed Prime Minister Fayez Serraj or his internationally-supported government body in the West, the Government of National Accord. All of the East and many parts of the West and South of Libya who refuse to accept Serraj are punished by interruptions in their salary schedules and state funding distribution for public services - including funds that support vital programs such as health care.