A vital medical aid shipment donated by Direct Relief and distributed by Anera is helping thousands of vulnerable patients begin or continue treatment
More than 30,000 cancer patients in Lebanon are currently struggling to obtain treatment due to shortages of medications, limitations in access to proper services, and continuing increases in treatment costs. The Lebanese pound has lost more than 98% of its value, dramatically eroding the purchasing power of individuals. As the economic crisis in Lebanon deepens, cancer patients are increasingly hindered in accessing proper healthcare.
According to a report published by the World Health Organization's Global Cancer Observatory in March 2021, Lebanon recorded 28,764 cases of cancer during the last five years, including 11,600 cases in 2020. Moreover, in 2018 the World Health Organization-affiliated International Agency for Research on Cancer indicated that Lebanon ranked first among Western Asian countries in the number of cancer cases as a percentage of the population. There are 242 cancer patients for every 100,000 residents in Lebanon.
Fadela, a 52-year-old bowel cancer patient, has been undergoing treatment for the past four months. She recalls the struggle of finding medication and the fear that her disease would take over if she couldn't obtain it.
"Initially, medicine was not always available, and our primary concern was finding it,” she says. “We couldn't afford to get the medication from outside Lebanon, so I was afraid that if I didn't get it, the disease would win and I would pass away."
For cancer patients like Fadela, waiting for their treatment to be available is a race against time. The sooner the patient starts treatment, the better the disease prognosis. Patients are experiencing delays and interruptions of treatment, which reduces their likelihood of recovery.
"Medicine was not always available, and our primary concern was finding it."
Muhammad, a 65-year-old prostate cancer patient, has been battling the disease for the past 13 years. He shares that his treatment was often sporadic due to the difficulty of finding the right medication, which was expensive and not consistently available. The current financial crisis in Lebanon has made things even more challenging for him, as banks are denying him access to his money, making it difficult to pay for treatments.
With Direct Relief’s generous donation, Anera was able to provide 9,200 treatments of more than five types of anticancer medications, estimated to treat around 3,000 patients.
Anera distributed the shipment to public hospitals with chemotherapy units, including the Karantina Public Hospital in Beirut, the Tripoli Public Hospital in the North, and the Nabatieh Public Hospital in the South.
Fadela and Muhammad are among the many cancer patients who have benefited from Anera's medical donations program. The program provides much-needed support to those who are struggling to access medication due to the high cost and limited availability in Lebanon.
With continued efforts and support, we can work towards a future where cancer patients in Lebanon have access to the medications and treatments they need to fight this devastating disease.