It’s now six months since the catastrophic explosion in Beirut, on August 4, killed hundreds of people, injured over 6,000, and left more than 300,000 people displaced from their homes.

 

Acute shortages of medicines, medical supplies and equipment were a serious concern, as facilities that stored them were heavily damaged in the blast.

We responded rapidly to requests for support from our in-country partners, to ship emergency medical and health supplies. In total, ten IHP shipments have arrived in Lebanon since the explosion, containing over 500,000 treatments of critically needed medicines and supplies.

 

Response activity

IHP has provided a range of medicines and supplies, according to the needs expressed by our partners. These have included antibiotics, anti-infectives, antifungals, anti-inflammatories, and wound bandages and dressings. We have also supplied medications for chronic health conditions, including heart conditions, diabetes, and asthma. These conditions can prove fatal or lead to life-long disability if left untreated. All medicines have been provided free of charge to patients, helping to remove the financial barrier to healthcare felt by those already struggling financially.

 

Aleyna's story

Saint George Hospital is one of Anera’s partners receiving medical aid through IHP. Aleyna is a 57-year-old Lebanese patient and one of the many who depend on the hospital’s pharmacy to get medication. ‘I am still in shock. It destroyed my city and left so many injured, especially in my neighbourhood,’ she says. She is anxious about how she will get by. ‘I am running low on money, and the situation is difficult. I purchase some of my medication from the pharmacy. Of course I’ve had to cut down on many of them, because prices have increased.’ 

Thankfully, the hospital ensures that at least she doesn’t have to worry about some of her most important medications. ’I get my diabetes medicine from the Saint George Hospital pharmacy [free of charge]’.

 

A healthcare system in crisis

At the time of the blast, the country was already struggling due to socio-economic and political turmoil, which had led to astronomical rises in the prices of goods including medicines. Lebanon also has more refugees per capita than any other country in the world, with refugees having extremely limited access to government health services. All this, plus the COVID-19 crisis, has left Lebanon on the brink.

Everyone in Lebanon, but particularly the poorest including the refugee population, already faced great difficulties accessing affordable medicines before the blast.  Lebanon's annual inflation rate climbed for the thirteenth consecutive month to 136.8 percent in October of 2020, due to the deepening political, economic, and financial crisis, and the ongoing depreciation in the Lebanese pound.  This is putting the purchase of medicines increasingly out of reach for most people, particularly when combined with soaring unemployment which has hit the refugee community especially.

The continuation of the pandemic has also revealed the limitations on hospitals and clinics. Shortages of ICU beds and essential equipment, as well as lack of space for COVID patients, is preventing many from getting essential care. Even critical patients are being turned away.

  

Our work in Lebanon is not yet done.  We have further shipments in the pipeline and are committed to supporting our in-country partners, Anera and International Medical Corps, to help get medicine to where it is needed most.

We urgently need support for these shipments to help with rebuilding medicine stocks and addressing the severe medicine shortages in the country. 

 

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Should any excess funds be received for this response these will be applied to our Disaster Fund to help facilitate a rapid response to other emergencies – including those that do not hit the headlines.