International

‘Healthcare in Lebanon facing collapse amid fuel shortages, brain drain’

Moscow, Sept 19 (UNI/SPUTNIK): Lebanon’s health sector is at the risk of collapse, with fuel shortages crippling hospitals and medical professional leaving the country at an alarming rate, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Sunday.

“Since the Beirut port blast last year, the country and its people have slipped even further into despair. The current economic crisis has increased poverty across the country, and all sectors including health, are at risk of collapse,” Tedros said in a joint statement with WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Ahmed Al Mandhari.

The statement was issued after WHO officials completed a two-day trip to Lebanon.

Fuel shortages have pushed hospitals to operate at 50% capacity, putting people’s access to vital surgeries at risk, the statement said. And with lack of foreign currency limiting imports, many medicines are hard to find.

The economic crisis and other hardships are forcing people to leave.

“A brain drain is occurring at alarming speed. Almost 40% of skilled medical doctors and almost 30% of registered nurses have already left the country either permanently or temporarily,” the statement said.

The coronavirus pandemic has added to the difficulties already facing Lebanon’s health sector and communities.

WHO will remain committed to its “immediate, lifesaving work in Lebanon”, Tedros and Al Mandhari concluded.

For the last few years, Lebanon has been battling an economic crisis that has repeatedly sent its national currency into a free fall. The crisis was further impacted by a powerful blast that rocked the Lebanese capital in August, 2020. The explosion, which was caused by improperly stored cargo at a ship at the port, killed over 200 people and left thousands homeless. Entire districts adjacent to the port area were destroyed leaving the country to feel the after-effects of the blast up to this day.

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