Despite the efforts of the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health in supporting basic and specialist healthcare for refugees, the cost of consultations, laboratory tests, and medication remains a barrier for a significant number of refugees.
MSF ensures access to free, high-quality healthcare for vulnerable people, including refugees and migrant workers. Our activities include reproductive health services, general and intensive care, treatment for non-communicable diseases, and routine vaccinations for children, in Akkar, Zahle, South Beirut and in the Bekaa valley. We also provide treatment for children with thalassemia in Zahle.
Our teams are currently running COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, including in nursing homes and in prisons. We are also conducing health education sessions which include informative messages about COVID-19 vaccination and the ways to register to get vaccinated.
Our activities in 2021 in Lebanon
Data and information from the International Activity Report 2021.
Eighty-five per cent of people are now reportedly living below the poverty line, with insufficient access to food, fuel and medication. The breakdown of the healthcare system and severe shortages of essential drugs have pushed more people to seek assistance from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and other medical humanitarian organisations to cover their medical needs.*
Our teams provide basic health services, including sexual and reproductive healthcare, consultations for chronic diseases, mental health support, thalassemia care and surgery in various areas of the country. We also assist births, offer paediatric care and routine vaccinations for children. At the end of the year, a reassessment of our activities led to the closure of the paediatric intensive care unit in Zahle.
In 2021, we opened a new clinic to respond to the medical needs of migrant workers who have been impacted by the economic crisis. There are approximately 250,000 migrant workers in Lebanon, in addition to over 1.5 million refugees, mainly Palestinians and Syrians, many of whom live in precarious conditions in overcrowded camps. MSF activities in the eastern and northern areas of the country have been developed to cover the needs of these people, who often face limited access to medical care.
COVID-19 dealt yet another blow to the overstretched healthcare system. Some healthcare workers left the country, while many health facilities in Beirut that were damaged in the port explosion in 2020 remained unrepaired.
MSF supported the COVID-19 response by temporarily transforming our hospital in Bar Elias into a COVID-19 treatment centre during the first months of 2021. Our teams also assisted with vaccinations for people most at risk, such as the elderly, medical staff and detainees, and sent mobile teams to vaccinate communities in the remote area of Akkar, in the north of Lebanon.
* World Food Programme, Lebanon m-VAM Vulnerability and Food Security Assessment, https://docs.wfp.org/api/documents/WFP-0000129566/download/
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