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Libyan Arab Jamahiriya is a country with an approximate area of 1760 thousand sq. km. (UNO, 2001). Its population is 5.659 million, and the sex ratio (men per hundred women) is 107 (UNO, 2004). The proportion of population under the age of 15 years is 30% (UNO, 2004), and the proportion of population above the age of 60 years is 6% (WHO, 2004). The literacy rate is 91.8% for men and 70.7% for women (UNESCO/MoH, 2004).

The country is a higher middle income group country (based on World Bank 2004 criteria). The proportion of health budget to GDP is 2.9%. The per capita total expenditure on health is 239 international $, and the per capita government expenditure on health is 134 international $ (WHO, 2004). The main language(s) used in the country is (are) Arabic, Italian and English. The largest ethnic group(s) is (are) Berber and Arab.

The largest religious group(s) is (are) Muslim.

The life expectancy at birth is 70.4 years for males and 75.5 years for females (WHO, 2004). The healthy life expectancy at birth is 62 years for males and 65 years for females (WHO, 2004).


There is a paucity of epidemiological data on mental illnesses in Libyan Arab Jamahariya in internationally accessible literature. Avasthi et al (1991) conducted a study on 1009 psychiatric in-patients. Using ICD-9 descriptions, they found schizophrenic psychosis in 39%, affective psychosis in 17%, neurotic disorders in 12%, organic psychosis in 8% and acute psychosis in 7%. Neurotic depression was the commonest type of neurotic disorder, and anti-social personality was the commonest among personality disorders. Pu et al (1986) did a sociodemographic study on 100 patients suffering from hysteria in one particular area. Verma (1990) conducted a cytogenetic analysis of cases of Down syndrome and found the prevalence to be 1 in 516 live births. 82% of the mothers of cases of Down syndrome were over 30 years of age as compared to 36% of the mothers of controls. Cytogenetically 96% of the cases were that of trisomy 21.


Mental Health Policy A mental health policy is absent. In Libya, the mental health policy is part of the general health policy.

Substance Abuse Policy A substance abuse policy is absent.

National Mental Health Programme A national mental health programme is present. The programme was formulated in 1988. The national mental health programme was put forward with the objective of providing essential mental health care for all in all spheres of life, like work, family, community and national growth.

National Therapeutic Drug Policy/Essential List of Drugs Details about the national therapeutic drug policy/essential list of drugs are not available.

Mental Health Legislation A ministerial resolution No. 654 in 1975 regulates the treatment of mentally ill in mental hospitals. It requires to be revised. There is a national committee looking into the aspect of a new legislation. The latest legislation was enacted in 1975.

Mental Health Financing There are no budget allocations for mental health. Details about expenditure on mental health are not available. Details about sources of financing are not available. The country has disability benefits for persons with mental disorders. A monthly stipend of 90 Libyan Dinars is provided to the mentally disabled.

Mental Health Facilities Mental health is a part of primary health care system. Actual treatment of severe mental disorders is available at the primary level. Regular training of primary care professionals is carried out in the field of mental health. Psychiatric services are integrated in the primary care system. Training programmes for social workers, primary care physicians and clinical psychologists are components of the mental health programme. However, the facilities are poor and manuals for doctors and workers are not available. There are community care facilities for patients with mental disorders.

Psychiatric Beds and Professionals

Total psychiatric beds per 10 000 population
Psychiatric beds in mental hospitals per 10 000 population
Psychiatric beds in general hospitals per 10 000 population
Psychiatric beds in other settings per 10 000 population
Number of psychiatrists per 100 000 population
Number of neurosurgeons per 100 000 population
Number of psychiatric nurses per 100 000 population
Number of neurologists per 100 000 population
Number of psychologists per 100 000 population
Number of social workers per 100 000 population

  • 1.0
  • 1.0
  • 0
  • 0
  • 0.18
  • 0.18
  • 0.5
  • 0.15
  • 0

Most of psychologists are social psychologists. There are beds for the mentally retarded (500), elderly (130), drug abusers (50) and children, besides the beds mentioned. Patients with drug abuse are admitted only once. There is an acute shortage of occupational therapists.

Non-Governmental Organizations Details about NGO facilities in mental health are not available.

Information Gathering System Details about mental health reporting systems are not available. Details about data collection system or epidemiological study on mental health are not available. Hospital data collection is done.

Programmes for Special Population The country has specific programmes for mental health for elderly and children. There are services for children and elderly and also forensic psychiatry services.

Therapeutic Drugs The following therapeutic drugs are generally available at the primary health care level of the country: unknown. 

Source: World Health Organization Mental Health Atlas