SEATTLE, Washington — COVID-19 has exacerbated public health concerns in Libya as the country approaches 10 consecutive years of political turmoil and civil war. In 2020 alone, health facilities have been targeted in at least 15 attacks, making hospitals unsafe for both doctors and patients. Amid a global pandemic, the safety of public health facilities is an incredibly severe issue for Libyans. The rapid-spreading coronavirus compounds the danger of visiting a hospital during a civil war. However, doctors from diaspora communities hope to relieve some of Libya’s health and safety concerns through the use of innovative telehealth platforms like Speetar.
The Story Behind Speetar
Speetar is a telehealth platform that holds promise for the health and safety of Libyans amid the civil war and global pandemic. Speetar is redesigning healthcare delivery through its app that connects doctors from diaspora communities with people in their home countries that need prompt medical care.
Mohamed Aburawi, the co-founder of Speetar, completed medical school in Libya before relocating to the U.S. for his Harvard fellowship. Libya’s shortage of doctors is primarily due to physicians fleeing the country for safety concerns or pursuing further medical training abroad. Recognizing that he was contributing to this issue, Aburawi sought to create a telehealth platform that allowed himself and other Libyan doctors who had left the country for similar reasons to serve patients in Libya.
Speetar was founded in 2017 and piloted in Libya with the hope of increasing the accessibility of quality healthcare in countries suffering from conflict. This telehealth system enabled Libyans to connect with doctors from diaspora communities who spoke their language and understood their situation. Furthermore, it improved healthcare accessibility for people living in rural Libya. It provided all Libyans with not only medical consultations but also e-prescriptions and scheduling services for patients requiring in-person care.
The Role of Speetar Amid COVID-19
The Libyan National Center for Disease Control partnered with Speetar to provide information and consultation on the COVID-19 global pandemic. Speetar has been instrumental in determining the severity of coronavirus symptoms so that patients do not have to risk exposing themselves to the war-related or COVID-19-related dangers of visiting healthcare facilities.
Another primary function of Speetar in Libya amid the pandemic is COVID-19 tracing. When patients test positive for COVID-19, the app prompts them to communicate with people that they were in contact with over the last two weeks so that they can get tested as well and quarantine if necessary. By working with healthcare professionals on the ground in Libya, Speetar makes COVID-19 testing and information more accessible and ensures that patients are adequately treated. Furthermore, Speetar provides the Libyan government and the Ministry of Health with reliable, organized data about the state of the virus so that informed decisions about COVID-19 management in Libya can be made.
Mohamed Aburawi created Speetar because he recognized how telehealth platforms could be useful in regions where conflict and poor health infrastructures cause uncertainty and deteriorate public health. The outbreak of COVID-19 in Libya amid the ongoing civil war has highlighted the importance of innovative health solutions such as telehealth. Speetar has been the primary influence in Libya’s response to COVID-19 and has proven to be an effective method of addressing health concerns in uncertain circumstances. Speetar is currently looking to expand its services to Pakistan and Egypt to further its goal of increasing access to quality healthcare.