Professor Novak Vukoje is a world renowned physician specialising in sleep disorders including apnea and snoring. In his native Serbia, his practice in Belgrade offers corrective surgery to patients from around the world as well as treatments to improve the health and lifestyle of those in need.
While Dr. Vukoje continues to practice medicine, many of his patients may be unaware that he once treated Libya’s revolutionary leader Muammar Gaddafi. Dr. Vukoje recently spoke with Sputnik in Serbia and recalled his memories of Libya before it descended into the hell of civil war and constant terror.
“I am proud that I had the opportunity to get to know him. For the first time we talked in his tent in 2006. He then invited the national television to film our conversation. But no one feels careless before a surgical operation and he (Gaddafi) confessed: ‘The whole of Libya stands in awe of me, and I am in awe of the Serbian surgeon”.
“I spent quite a lot of time with him(Gaddafi)… and in general, I would like to say that during Gaddafi’s reign the life in Libya was very good. I traveled across world, but Libya was the only country where I did not see beggars on the streets. The state authorities helped everyone to live decently.
It is like the domino effect: you find three dissatisfied people, then you find three more, and then three more again. This is how this unfortunate war began, and you see how it ended. A general who drove me there says that people simply have nothing to eat, no water, no gasoline. This is a nightmare”.
During the time of Gaddafi’s Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Libya was the wealthiest African nation. Public services including utilities were free as was healthcare and education. For those who required to study aboard, the government paid for the expenses of higher education and foreign universities and those who could not immediately obtain employment were paid their nominal salary until such a time they could find employment.
Housing was considered a right and overtime, Libya went from one of the poorest countries of the region to one where immense wealth from the energy sector was widely distributed to a population which became accustomed to high living standards.
One of Gaddafi’s most ambitious projects was the ‘Man Made River’ which brought fresh water and irrigation to the vast Libyan desert.
Today, Libya stands divided between multiple governments which are all vying for legitimacy. All of this is happening against a backdrop of terrorists who control a great deal of Libyan territory and amid a total collapse of Libya’s once cutting edge infrastructure.