Delivering critical medical supplies to Lebanon during COVID-19 pandemic
“At a time of international shortages in personal protection equipment, this donation is a token of solidarity and support from Anera and Direct Relief to Lebanon and especially to Rafik Hariri University Hospital, the pioneers of the COVID-19 response in Lebanon.” — Samar El Yassir, Anera Lebanon country director
Anera recently distributed a shipment of critical medical supplies donated by Direct Relief to Rafik Hariri University Hospital in Lebanon. The shipment included oxygen concentrators, N95 respirator masks, gloves, shoe covers, surgical caps, soap bars, and face shields.
This shipment is helping to ease the huge need for medical supplies in Lebanon. Lina Atat, Anera’s medical donation program manager in Lebanon, says,
“We scaled up our medical donation program and relief efforts to support front line medical institutions facing COVID-19. At Hariri Hospital, you can feel the medical teams’ appreciation, specifically regarding the oxygen concentrators, as they could be life-saving for patients with COVID-19.”
Oxygen concentrators filter ambient air and deliver highly concentrated oxygen to the lungs.
The timing of this shipment bolstering the hospital’s COVID-19 response capacity is fortuitous. A Palestinian refugee from Wavel Refugee Camp in the Baalbeck area recently tested positive for the virus and was transferred to Rafik Hariri University Hospital. She was followed by four of her family members who subsequently also tested positive.
In November 2019, medical staff and front-line care providers were protesting the government’s failure to pay its bills to medical facilities. Today, with this global pandemic, which threatens to sweep through the nation like a desert storm, the already fragile Lebanese health care system has reached a frightening tipping point.
Medical centers like the Rafik Hariri University Hospital are a key part of the nation’s health care capacity. The hospital has the only reference laboratory for the molecular identification of COVID-19 in Lebanon. It has isolation units and offers hospitalization and medical treatment. Today, this public hospital is the key referral facility for the Ministry of Public Health and the World Health Organization in Lebanon’s COVID-19 response, with a dedicated wing of the hospital hosting all of the nation’s confirmed COVID-19 cases.
This puts a strain on the hospital’s resources, making it difficult for its staff to procure sufficient quantities of surgical face masks and N95 respirator masks in addition to other crucial isolation and treatment supplies.
Our medical donation program team in Lebanon is in continuous communication with our counterparts at the hospital to assess the need for additional support from Anera and its generous donors. In the next few weeks, the hospital is projecting a shortage of hazmat suits, eye shields, masks, sanitizers, and gloves. Anera will continue to communicate the most pressing health needs in Lebanon and among refugee populations and other vulnerable communities to its international medical partners.
In February, Anera’s president and Lebanon country director, Sean Carroll and Samar El Yassir, respectively, met with Dr. Firas Abiad, director of Hariri Hospital. In that meeting, Abiad explained the ramifications of Lebanon’s socioeconomic crisis on its health care, especially the shortage of medical supplies. Following the meeting, Samar noted,
“The professionalism, commitment and dedication of Dr. Abiad and his whole medical team is exemplary and we are proud to be able to support these front liners.”
The High Relief Committee, Lebanon’s governmental aid body, provided very helpful assistance in ensuring the supplies reached their destination.