Written by: Edward Lai
The pandemic makes us realise the importance of having a sound medical system, which does not only require sufficient medical personnel, but also a stable supply of medicine.
Lebanon has been identified as a priority country in the United Nations’ COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan.
As the country that has the highest per capita proportion of refugees in the world, Lebanon has taken in 1.5 million Syrian and 200,000 Palestinian refugees, who currently make up more than 30% of the country population. The exponential growth of refugees in Lebanon has put the already fragile medical system under pressure. The outbreak of COVID-19 further places enormous burden on its medical services, brining them to the verge of collapse.
Last year, CEDAR supported the delivery of medicines to Lebanon by our partner International Health Partners (IHP). Since February this year, CEDAR has been collaborating with IHP again to transport medicines to Lebanon’s hospitals and clinics to lessen the burden of frontline medical services.
You may ask, why do we need to transport medicines to Lebanon from overseas?
Answer: Lebanon is facing an economic downturn, and there is a severe shortage of medical supplies. Together with the effect of soaring inflation, the prices of medicine in the country have well exceeded what the underprivileged can afford. If a member of a poverty-stricken family is sick, he/she has to make a choice between two options: 1. taking unlicensed medicines purchased from sources that are doubtful, or refusing to attend follow-up consultations in order to save money; 2. paying their medical bills through “austerity measures”, such as reducing food intake, selling possessions, having their young children work or selling the food aids they received from charity organisations. As for refugees, because Lebanon is not a party to the UN’s “Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees”, their rights to medical services are not legally protected in Lebanon.
IHP obtained licensed medicines from the pharmaceutical manufacturers and medical supplies companies in Europe, and CEDAR has been supporting IHP to transport and distribute the free medicines to local hospitals and clinics. We hope that our work can help alleviate dire situations of both the refugees and the poor in Lebanon.
There is growing tension between Lebanese and Syrian refugees. How does CEDAR’s partnermaintain a fair supply of medicines to them?
Answer: The clinics that receive our medicines serve all who are in need, whether they are locals or refugees. However, children and women from poor families have priority in receiving the free medicines, include respiratory drugs, antibiotics, anti-diabetics, and anti-inflammatory medicines. It is estimated that 8,600 people will benefit from this programme.
CEDAR needs your support in serving the poor. Together we can do more for the destitute!
The clinic is running at full capacity all the time. We see approximately 1,200 patients a month. The medicines we receive are vital for helping us to treat patients.
from a director of clinic in a refugee settlement area in Lebanon