Doctors Without Borders expressed “grave concern” about the continuity of basic health care services in the country, amid fears of the consequences of the collapse of the Lebanese health system, as the head of the organization’s mission in Beirut, Joao Martins, referred to the “rationing” that hospitals had already begun and that extended their services to what extent. He pushed her to prioritize patients, arguing that in the absence of electricity, proper supplies and staff, “people could now die from easily preventable and treatable causes.”
In the context, Martins attributed the cause of the Lebanese crisis to “the rampant corruption over the years,” noting the “Doctors Without Borders” fear of “destroying an entire health system, just as wars or natural disasters do.” He considered that the political vacuum is not the only cause of the health care crisis, “but it impedes finding solutions to address it,” calling on the authorities to “act now to avoid worse consequences for the Lebanese.”
Lack of fuel and diesel
On the other hand, the organization drew attention to the impact of the economic crisis on the purchasing power of individuals and weakening it, as it “led to an unprecedented rise in prices and the almost impossibility of importing fuel into the country,” as it described. She pointed out that hospitals that depend on generators in the absence of state electricity suffer from daily power cuts that last for hours due to the lack of fuel for their backup generators.
In a related context, “Doctors Without Borders” confirmed that it “is not exempt from the lack of energy,” explaining that “its teams recently faced a power outage in Bar Elias Hospital (Bekaa Valley) that lasted for more than 44 hours over three days.” This forced her medical team to “reduce surgeries by 50 percent during that period, and ration fuel use to ensure emergency response.”
Medicines are becoming scarce
“Doctors Without Borders” reminded of the crisis of the shortage of essential medicines that are not available at distributors and pharmacies, most of which cannot be produced locally. It’s deteriorating again because they haven’t been able to access the medicines they need.”
The organization confirmed that it is the first time that public hospitals to which “Doctors Without Borders” refer pregnant women have requested oxytocin and magnesium, which are essential medicines to treat postpartum conditions that can lead to death.
“Unfortunately, we sometimes find ourselves unable to provide support and assistance. Quantities in our clinics and stocks are limited, and even if we are able to get an additional shipment, it takes time due to import delays. Due to the complexity and chaos of the public order, shipments of medicines often take time. Eight months to reach us, which is a very long time, especially in the context of health emergencies,” says Martins.
The humanitarian aid system is overwhelmed
Residents can no longer afford private medical care, the organization says, noting an “unprecedented rise in the number of people arriving for humanitarian assistance to access health care services.” MSF teams are witnessing this firsthand in their clinics, as more and more people turn to them for free medical services, as well as food and food supplies during their medical consultation visits.
Celine Urbin, MSF Bekaa project coordinator, explains that “in the organization’s project in the Bekaa Valley, where we provide reproductive and psychological health care in addition to medical care for people with chronic diseases, we are seeing a huge increase in the number of people who come to us to benefit from our free medical services.” “. She explains: “The number of chronic disease patients receiving our medical support has increased by 60 percent since the beginning of last year, and the number of Lebanese patients has doubled.”
She added, “We are currently following up and providing medical care to 3,500 patients suffering from chronic diseases in the Bekaa Valley, specifically in Hermel and Arsal,” considering that “this increase is very worrying, because we have reached our maximum potential in terms of the medical staff for each patient, which can reduce quality of care.
A few months ago, MSF teams saw a significant increase in the number of women coming to the maternity clinic in south Beirut. The organization describes that “pregnant women were queuing outside the clinic and waiting hours to be accepted and receive free prenatal care and delivery services.”
“While it is good that we have been able to provide assistance to the most needy, unfortunately we cannot receive everyone,” says Debassi.
“We are committed to providing impartial medical care to the most vulnerable to the best of our ability, but the Lebanese authorities must take the necessary measures to ensure the provision of essential medical services to the population. They must act quickly, to secure the country’s need for medicines, supplies and fuel. Humanitarian actors cannot replace the health system of an entire country”, concludes Joao Martins.