Medical Surplus Becomes Vital Aid in Lebanon
Humanitarian aid like PPE and medical supplies fill a crucial gap for Lebanese health system
Lebanon’s healthcare system was dealt a double blow by the Beirut explosions. Humanitarian aid is needed now more than ever. The devastating blast obliterated several pharmacies and primary healthcare centers and badly damaged six of the capital city’s hospitals, while flooding the rest with casualties and COVID-19 patients.
The World Health Organization estimates that the blast reduced hospital capacity in Lebanon by 500 beds. Meanwhile, the depreciation of the Lebanese pound has led to severe shortages of medications and medical supplies like masks, gloves and other protective gear, as well as ventilators, gauze, blades and syringes.
That is why the work of our partners at MedWish International is pivotal for Beirut’s recovery.
The Karantina Government Hospital, located in close proximity to ground zero of the explosion, was severely damaged.
To help them recover from the blast and tend to their patient’s needs, Anera distributed a large batch of medical supplies and PPE to Karantina Government Hospital. Among these supplies are surgical gowns, otoscopes, suction tubings, adult manual wheelchairs and stethoscopes.
Marie Khalifa, the head nurse for the pediatric unit at Karantina Hospital, says they lost many medical devices and equipment like wheelchairs in the Beirut blast. “We thank MedWish and all your partners for their generosity,” she says. Such donations are essential, Khalifa explains, because,
“Many of our patients can’t afford to cover treatment costs, and we can’t simply refuse to serve them! That is why we rely on the support of people like you.”
The hospital is still trying to obtain infant respirator tubes, which are currently selling for “absurdly high prices” in Lebanon due to the exchange rate crisis.
Lebanese American University’s Medical Center was also directly impacted by the Beirut blast. Given its central location, the hospital treated many of the injured. Its ER department was overloaded and staff were pulling triple shifts, which meant that they quickly ran through their planned stock of medical supplies and PPE.
Christian Sawma, head pharmacist at Lebanese American University’s Medical Center, says,
“Within half an hour [of the explosion] most of the staff and myself arrived at the hospital and announced a state of emergency. The blast caused massive damage to the hospital. Our pharmacy was severely damaged, but thankfully many of the medicines were in good condition. We started cleaning out the glass and rubble ourselves.”
Still, it was in better shape than some of the city's other emergency medical facilities. “Most of our neighboring hospitals were in very bad condition,” Sawma says, “as their main buildings were almost obliterated.” The hospital quickly began treating patients.
“Our ER team was receiving cases at a rate which exceeded the normal capacity by 70 or 80 patients.”
“We performed 53 operations,” Sawma says, “which left us in short supply of medicines, especially antibiotics, as well as OR equipment. Of course, all patients were receiving free-of-charge medical assistance.”
Not only is MedWish International providing donated, essential medical supplies to the heroic first responders of Lebanon who need them the most, they are showing the world how vital and potentially life-saving these medical supplies can be while simultaneously reducing medical waste.
“Many NGOs have reached out to us, but Anera was among the first. After the blast, they visited us to determine what our needs are and how they could be of help. This donation [from MedWish International] is one of many ways that Anera has supported us.
“Now — thanks to MedWish International, Airlink and Anera — we have a significant amount of medical supplies in our warehouses, including syringes, catheters, N95 respirator masks and more.”
Anera has distributed the over six ton shipment of medical supplies donated by MedWish International, with transportation supported by Airlink, to a number of medical facilities across Lebanon, including the Rosary Sisters Hospital, Levant Hospital, Children Cancer Center for Lebanon, Rafik Hariri University Hospital, Saint George Hospital, American University of Beirut Medical Center, Lebanese American University Medical center, Bikhazi Hospital, Karantina Government Hospital and others.