Libya is a country in turmoil, with a health care infrastructure that is falling apart. We get criticized sometimes for continuing to go to Libya to perform lifesaving heart surgeries in the midst of the violence and chaos.
‘They need aid’ is what we hear in America, when the topic of Libya comes up.
Here are four reasons why we provide heart surgery in a war zone like Libya:
- Libyans know what they need—and they asked us to come.
Libyans are savvy. They care for their own people. They want to provide what their people need. It isn’t helpful to come from the outside, without intimately knowing the situation on the ground, and assuming to know better.
- By teaching best ICU care practices, preservation of sterilization in the operating room, and echocardiogram diagnosis techniques—as well as surgical techniques—we raise the level of care across the board.
Local medical staff who master best practices in care of young heart surgery patients are able to apply those skills in every other hospital department.
- When we teach the skills required to perform pediatric heart surgeries, local medical staff can then handle whatever gets thrown at them.
When doctors and nurses become skilled healing the smallest, most vulnerable patients, with incredibly challenging heart defects, they have the skills needed to handle trauma, and any other condition they might be presented with.
- It’s within our hands to do.
We aren’t the UN. We aren’t the World Food Programme. Thankfully, those groups already exist to provide broad relief aid.
We are focussed on the immediate needs of Libyan children who need heart surgeries to live, as well as a medical system which requires more trained medical personnel to care for their own citizens.
We are focussed on what is needed right now. But at the same time, we are able to help bring positive systemic change. We all have the ability to contribute to the stabilization of Libya—this is how we do it.