TRIPOLI, June 17, 2013 (IRIN) – Doctors in Libya say they are seeing a “growing” number of patients with drug problems and a corresponding risk of HIV infection, in a post-Gaddafi era marked by limited law enforcement and government capacity.
“Every month more people come to us needing help,” said Abdullah Fannir, deputy director of Gargaresh psychiatric hospital in Tripoli.
“It’s part of the fallout from the revolution. Border control is weak, making it easy for drug-traffickers, and there’s more demand as well. Hundreds of thousands of Libyans were displaced, wounded or bereaved during the uprising.”
Doctors at Benghazi’s Al Irada drug addiction clinic, the only treatment centre of its kind in the country, say some of the most common addictions they have to treat are for Tramadol, a painkiller that stimulates the release of serotonin and can cause seizures, and heroin.
With heroin has come HIV/AIDS. A report by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine published in April based on data collected in Tripoli before the uprising concluded that 87 percent of the city’s injecting drug users have HIV. That is the highest rate recorded anywhere in the world and compares to 2.6 percent in Tunis and 7.7 percent in Cairo.