Lebanon, and in particular its health sector is currently suffering from one of, if not, the worst crises it has ever seen. Between its volatile political environment and the ever worsening economic crises, it seems as though the future of this beacon of the Middle East, is bleak.
The unprecedented devaluation of more than 90% of the national currency has affected the entire population’s primary needs such as food, health, security and employment
Lebanese healthcare institutions, which have always been the reference for high quality medical care in the Middle East, are suffering a massive hemorrhage of medical and nursing staff. This mass exodus and brain drain of our healthcare workforce, mostly to countries in the Gulf and Europe, is driven by two major forces. Our talented doctors and nurses are being pushed out by the abysmal economic and social crisis forcing them to find opportunities abroad, to meet the need of their families. Moreover, countries abroad are pulling our competent and skilled workforce with opportunities and needs that are not being met in their own nation. The alarm has been sounded multiple times by the Order of Physicians, the Order of Nurses and the Syndicate of Hospitals in Lebanon, however, these cries of help have yet to be answered by the public authorities, or the Lebanese political class who seem to be watching the boat sink without any concrete action.
The Lebanese Hospital Geitaoui-University Medical Center, a 250-bed non-profit university hospital affiliated with the Lebanese University Faculty of Medicine, the only public university in Lebanon, has been serving its community for 95 years, and on August 4, 2020, was forced to shut its doors due to the extreme destruction it suffered from the blast. But the will to survive and rebuild prevailed. The determination of its management and workforce, along with the generosity of donors who were adamant to help this hospital get back on track with its humanitarian mission and vision to be a leading healthcare provider in its community, despite the tragic fate of Lebanon.
The hospital had barely resumed its activities, when a few months later it faced the worst wave of the COVID-19 pandemic yet. In fact, to meet the needs of the population, the hospital had to transform a considerable part of its capacity (nearly 100 beds) into care units for COVID-19 patients, quickly becoming one of the largest centers to care for these patients in Lebanon; all the while, rigorously respecting the standards of good practice and staff safety, despite the financial and logistic limitations.
However, the hospital is once again facing a turning point: the continuity of its mission is in danger. With a worsening economic climate, it struggles to meet its basic operational costs, such as the maintenance of infrastructure, maintenance of medical equipment, purchase of drugs and necessary medical consumables, purchase of basic products, purchase of fuel etc. whose rates in foreign currency have become out of scope or out of stock nationally. This undoubtedly raises the concern about possible impacts on patient care and safety. The hospital is still resisting the need to make patients bear the significant cost differences, so as to not hinder access to care, no matter how basic. Faced with this tragic, reality, a reality which is predicted to only worsen with time, the need for aid and support becomes ever so dire. We call again for the generosity of all those who can help us to survive this hardship, while waiting for better days and a lasting solution to the Lebanese economic crisis, of which hope is long overdue.
Any support or contribution to the operational costs of the hospital and its provisions can be extremely helpful to us to continue our mission towards our patients, and to help safeguard the sustainability and retention of our medical, nursing, paramedical and administrative teams, which have shown us that even in the country’s darkest hour, they were always on the front lines to serve their country, without failing in any of their professional and ethical duties. The history of Lebanon has always been that of a people who have been able to resist pain and obstacles thanks to their resilience and sense of mutual aid of their society and their Diaspora, which has never forgotten its roots. We still have a glimpse of hope, counting above all on the goodwill of our teams, the help of our friends and benefactors, and on God to continue our mission and hopefully witness the salvation of our Lebanon.