Beirut’s health sector has been impacted by the country’s ongoing economic turmoil.
Qatar Charity donated QAR 3.65 million in medical assistance to Lebanon’s interior and health ministries as the country continues to grapple with its worst economic crisis, Doha’s state news agency (QNA) reported on Wednesday.
Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) will be distributing the medical assistance, which includes chronic diseases medication for 11 most-needed categories. A total of 70% of the medicines will be freely distributed to patients in 240 health centres, helping Lebanon face a crippling shortage.
Lebanon’s Ministry of Interior and Municipalities will receive the remaining 30% of the aid for distribution to pharmacies of the Internal Security Forces. Qatar is already providing the Lebanese army with financial assistance.
In July, Qatar helped Lebanon secure some 991,000 litres of fuel to be used by healthcare facilities nationwide, according to Qatar Fund for Development.
That aimed to provide crucial support to some 40 hospitals, healthcare facilities and elderly homes in Lebanon.
In June, a trip to Beirut by Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani saw the official pledge a further $60 million (QAR 218,475,000) to the military.
The Gulf state’s humanitarian entities have also been leading efforts in supporting Lebanon’s education sector while providing refugees with aid.
Lebanon hosts 1.5 million Syrian refugees and at least 13,715 from other nationalities—the largest number of refugees per capita and per square kilometre.
Crumbling health sector
Lebanon’s health sector has been largely impacted by the country’s economic turmoil, exacerbated by the tragic Beirut blast and Covid-19 outbreak in 2020.
The Lebanese currency hit an all-time low after losing more than 90% of its value to the US dollar since 2019. At least 80% of the country’s population now live in poverty.
Many have been left unable to access their savings at local banks, leading to some incidents of bank break-ins for those desperate for staff to release their money.
This week, the head of Lebanon’s pharmacists’ syndicate, Joe Salloum warned that Lebanon is running out of medicine and baby formula, citing the exchange rate crisis as a cause behind the issue.
Lebanon has also been facing a cholera outbreak, with 381 laboratory-confirmed cases and 17 deaths since October, as per figures shared by the United Nations. Ettie Higgins, Lebanon’s deputy representative for UNICEF, attributed the outbreak to the country’s water crisis.
“Unfortunately, it took the arrival of cholera for people to start taking Lebanon’s water crisis seriously,” Higgins said, as quoted by The Financial Times.
Lebanese, as well as reports by rights groups, have pointed to the corrupt ruling elite as the cause behind the country’s crises, which has also led to a power vacuum.
A World Bank report released in July exposed how politicians in Lebanon were using the country’s resources to serve their own interests and accused officials of conducting a Ponzi scheme.
Meanwhile, former President Michel Aoun’s six-year term ended in October this year and the presidential vacancy has yet to be filled.