Life-saving medicine for infants in Lebanon
Delivering essential medication to Rafik Hariri University Hospital
Every day the news delivers updates on the number of deaths because of COVID-19. In Lebanon, due to the economic collapse and overall deteriorating living conditions, suicide and crime rates are on the rise. The headlines each morning are concerned with death. This story is about life. It is about the birth of new potential and holding on to hope.
The shipment consists of 510 treatments of beractant, a life-saving treatment for premature infants donated to Rafik Hariri University Hospital — one of the country's most prominent hospitals and the pillar of Lebanon’s fight against COVID-19.
Beractant significantly reduces the incidence of respiratory distress syndrome, which can lead to fatal complications in a premature infant’s fragile lungs.
Raeda Bitar, the hospital’s head of pharmaceuticals, explains why the medication is so vital for the hospital:
“For me to really convey the need for this medication you must keep in mind that our hospital hosts people from all walks of life. We are the number one public hospital in Beirut and its suburbs. We partner with health NGOs and charities that bring in thousands of non-Lebanese patients: Syrian refugees, migrant workers from Ethiopia and Sudan — everyone."
“We use this medication to help premature babies survive. It opens the lungs, allowing the baby to breath. It’s a matter of life and death. If there isn’t enough oxygen reaching the brain, the baby can have life-long physical or mental disabilities. So this medicine is indispensable.”
Raeda says the support provided by Americares and Anera is crucial because saving lives is a perpetual collaborative effort. “This donation is allowing us to provide this medicine free of charge. The majority of our patients come from marginalized communities. Most of them do not have medical insurance.”
Nawfal Nawfal, a pediatric specialist at the hospital, says the medication is a form of humanitarian aid, especially during the current crisis that is severely challenging Lebanon’s public health sector.
“A shortage in beractant means a high mortality rate among infants and an increase in the percentage of hospitalized and incubated babies suffering from premature birth complications...”
“Without beractant, our tiny patients might undergo a hypoxia condition, which is a lack of oxygen in the brain. And apart from that, premature birth complications can cause respiratory problems with potential lung obstruction, something which could impact the baby for the rest of their life.”
Lina Atat, Anera Lebanon’s medical donations manager says,