In Lebanon, the well-being of the people is in danger due to a dire healthcare situation exacerbated by economic crisis, currency depreciation, and widespread departures of healthcare workers have left only government hospitals to offer fundamental healthcare. Furthermore, vulnerable people are finding it difficult to get medical treatment; purchase chronic diseases medications, due to the financial crisis, as they are either not taking prescribed medications or skipping a day or more to do so. Not to mention the cancer patients dying because they cannot obtain their meds, along with the kidney dialysis high fees pushing patients to stop seeking the treatment. We urgently want your assistance to address this issue. Thousands of lives are at risk if no action is taken immediately. Your contribution has the potential to be a lifeline for the people of Lebanon, bringing hope and health to those in severe need.
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Lebanon's economy has been in freefall since 2019 and its currency has lost more than 90% of its value, forcing nearly three quarters of Lebanon's population into poverty, and leading many physicians and nurses to seek better opportunities abroad.
These crises have now reflected people with chronic diseases, who are no longer able to buy medicine, so they tend not to buy it, or not to take it on a daily basis. The crisis greatly affected cancer patients and dialysis patients, who, unfortunately, had to completely abandon treatment.
Once among the best in the Middle East, Lebanon's medical system is crumbling as hospitals and surgeries struggle to cope with departing staff on top of financial troubles and shortages.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that nearly 40% of Lebanon's doctors and almost 30% of nurses had departed since October 2019. Still more are in the process of getting their papers ready to emigrate, according to Sharaf Abou Sharaf, head of the doctors' syndicate . Healthcare workers say they are struggling to cope with a drop in their incomes as a result of the heavily devalued currency and growing workloads that leave them overstretched and patients at risk.
"The healthcare brain drain is jeopardizing the health of millions of people and the sector urgently needs CPR," said one medical professional who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Doctors and hospitals launched a two-days strike in May, announcing only emergency cases and dialysis patients would be admitted, in protest over central bank policies which they said were hobbling their ability to operate and pay staff.
With worsening economic conditions in Lebanon, the trend of increased reliance on public sector PHC services is expected to continue while current funding and operational support, including fuel, are anticipated to decline, thereby creating a triple burden on PHC facilities, particularly in under-served areas. Barriers to health access will also increase – notably cost of transport and cost of health services, with vulnerable groups most affected, as well as those with catastrophic illness and chronic health needs such as hemodialysis.
Unless an interim solution to medication subsidies can be found, affordability and accessibility of safe and quality medicines will remain a challenge and therefore reliance on humanitarian supply is predicted to increase, while unmanaged NCDs may produce a surge in hospital cases.
Migration of human resources for health will continue unabated without system-wide infusion of resources to support staff retention, with remote and rural areas most affected together with areas without sufficient functional inpatient hospital beds.
Finally, complex demands on the health system for concerns such as outbreak response, SGBV, malnutrition, MHPSS and disability are expected to grow as determinants of health worsen with the prolonged crisis.
On the other hand, the population as a whole is struggling to access appropriate mental health and psychological services in a safe and timely manner due to a series of barriers, including stigma, limited awareness on where and how to seek care and general perception that distress is not an issue.