Health sector crisis in Lebanon

Financial, economic and political crises are worsening putting pressure on all aspects of Lebanese life: Pharmacies without medicine, hospitals without medical supplies, anesthetic substances, laboratories without blood tests and radiology, as well as large migration of doctors and nurses abroad.
Perhaps the greatest risk is that a number of hospitals have announced the depletion of their existing stock of fuel, and what remains is not enough for them to secure the need for the next 24 hours.

The local currency also lost more than ninety percent of its value, while the Central Bank still provided the importers with dollars to cover part of the import cost, at the official rate (1,500 L.L for 1 dollar while the price is more than 20 000 L.L in black market).

Traders import medicine from abroad in foreign currency, i.e. in dollar terms, which they receive at a rate subsidized by the Bank of Lebanon. Importers accuse the Central Bank of not paying their dues and hold it responsible for delaying the opening of credits. Drug importers warned that they were running out of hundreds of drugs by end of July, and that the central bank had failed to pay suppliers abroad millions of dollars (that’s over 600 million dollars) in accumulated dues under a subsidy scheme.

With the central bank’s scarce foreign currency reserves, the authorities have for months been seeking to rationalize or lift support for the import of key goods, such as flour, fuel and medicines, to begin gradually without a formal announcement to lift support for several goods, which has increased the suffering of the Lebanese, in one of the worst economic and financial crises in the world, according to the World Bank.

In the face of this situation, drug importers in Lebanon warned against running out of stocks of hundreds of pharmaceutical items in a country mired in an economic collapse that has affected mainly the health and services sectors.

The Pharmaceutical Importers Association said that the import process has been almost completely halted for more than a month, and some medicines essential to treat heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and multiple sclerosis have already run out.

If nothing is done to support Lebanese people, the situation will be catastrophic by the end of July, as hundreds of thousands of patients will be deprived of the medicines needed to treat them. Week ago, thousands of Lebanese are queuing in front of pharmacies to buy medicines and store them for fear of interruption. 80 percent of pharmacies had stayed closed in Beirut and other big cities, and around half had done so in other areas.

Lebanon recently raised fuel prices by more than 55 percent, as part of the partial lifting of fuel subsidies with the depletion of dollar reserves at the Central Bank 0f Lebanon. The Lebanese government supplies most areas in Lebanon with electricity at an average of five hours a day, as it struggles to secure hard currency to import fuel.

The main problem in most of Lebanon’s hospitals today is electricity, without which medical machines do not work, and with the scarcity of diesel fuel that is almost exhausted from hospital stores, the generators will stop working, which puts the lives of patients at risk.

With the increase in the number of people infected with Corona virus, there is a real danger threatening the lives of the Lebanese, with the collapse of the health sector.

As for the international and Arab communities, standing by and watching this scene, leaving an entire people threatened with hunger, diseases and death without moving a finger on the pretext of the corruption of the Lebanese rulers, while the truth is in another place, where regional and international conflicts are increasing at the expense of peoples’ pain.

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