Healthcare is a luxury in crisis-hit Lebanon

By Noemi Jabois

Burj Barajneh, Lebanon, Jul 12 (EFE).- Nadine Ali al-Khayyat waits her turn at a clinic in Burj Barajneh refugee camp near Beirut to get free medicine amid major shortages which have led pharmacies across the country to go on strike.

Nadine is one of several dozen women packing the waiting rooms of the reproductive health clinic run by Doctors without Borders (MSF) that now has up to three times more requests from patients due to the economic catastrophe afflicting the Mediterranean nation that has had dire consequences on hospitals.

“My son needs medicine just like my husband, but I can’t find anything in pharmacies and I haven’t got my son’s medicine for about two months,” al-Khayyat, a Syrian refugee and a mother of a boy with learning difficulties, tells Efe.

Al-Khayyat, her husband, and their five children are crammed into a tiny space whose rent and bills account for most of the monthly assistance they receive from the United Nations.

Since arriving in Lebanon nine years ago, their life has never been easy. But their situation dramatically worsened during the economic crisis that broke out in 2019, the worst since a 15-year civil war ended in 1990.

With more than half of the population living in poverty, the MSF clinic in Burj Barajneh gets some 150 requests from patients daily, compared to 50 before the crisis, doctor Wafa Ali Shibet explains to Efe.

“Needs are increasing and our capacity is very limited,” says the doctor in charge of prenatal, postnatal and family planning care.

Although the clinic has its own supplies brought in by the MSF from abroad, Shibet underlines that some medications such as calcium supplements must be purchased from local markets, although supplies there are also dwindling rapidly.

As nationwide power cuts intensify and lines at gas stations grow ever longer, more medical personnel are migrating in search of a better life.

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