An IV is a healthcare professional's first line of defense. From heart problems to surgery to simple dehydration, almost every patient walking into a hospital needs an IV.
An IV is a healthcare professional's first line of defense. From heart problems to surgery to simple dehydration, almost every patient walking into a hospital needs an IV. In many corners of the world, receiving an IV in a hospital is a matter of routine for stabilizing patients before addressing other health concerns. However, not all patients are able to access that simple and essential treatment.
In some countries, because of supply chain issues and economic troubles, IV solutions are scarce and almost a luxury. Lebanon has felt the impacts more acutely than most countries.
Lebanon is facing its worst ever economic crisis, which has put enormous pressure on its already fragile healthcare system and led to medical shortages. Some hospitals have had to work without loop diuretics, antiarrhythmics, anticoagulants, and vasopressors, all of which are critical for the treatment of heart conditions. This has been a major concern, given that cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in Lebanon.
A few years ago, shortages of these basic medical supplies would have been unthinkable as the country had one of the strongest healthcare systems in the Middle East. However, now with Lebanese physicians lacking their first line of defense, they have been left helpless while treating patients in life-threatening conditions.
Palestine also is suffering. Maintaining stocks of medicines is always a major challenge for resource-strapped healthcare facilities in the vulnerable communities Anera serves. These local health centers often struggle to function in an atmosphere of intensifying violence in the West Bank and Jerusalem, periodic bombing campaigns on Gaza, and the ongoing blockade of Gaza’s borders. Basic supplies like IV solutions run out and are prohibitively expensive on the local market.
Delivering IV Solutions in Lebanon and Palestine
Anera and our long-time partner Americares are responding to the dire needs.
Thanks to generous donations from Americares, over the past year Anera has delivered 16 shipments of IV solutions across Palestine and Lebanon. The solutions come in 20-foot containers and all together they weighed 274 tons. At that weight, the cost for air shipping is prohibitive, so the containers went by sea and took about four weeks to go from port to port. But, when they arrived, the quantities of solutions made the wait worthwhile!
In the course of the past year, Anera distributed 31 pallets of IV solutions to the West Bank, 18 pallets to Gaza, and 34 pallets to Lebanon. There were enough IV solutions in the shipments to treat many thousands of patients.
Looking Ahead to Winter
As we head into the winter months, Anera and Americares are again working to secure IV solutions in response to requests for more shipments from healthcare facilities across Palestine and Lebanon.
Impossible though it may seem, cholera is taking hold in Lebanon for the first time in nearly 30 years. Cases are spreading in the crowded camps where basic services like water and sanitation systems cannot accommodate the numbers of people who rely on them. Since cholera spreads through contaminated water and food, the camps are a fertile breeding ground for the disease.
Because they help treat the dehydration that so often results from cholera and other illnesses, IV solutions are critical in a patient’s fight to get well.
"The IV lactated ringers donation from Americares was very useful given the shortages and the high cost of medications and medical supplies in Lebanon," said Dr Raeda Bitar, Pharmacy Director at the Rafik Hariri Hospital. "Our consumption of IV lactated ringers solution reaches 900-1200 bag per month to support patients undergoing surgeries and deliveries. Imagine now with the risk of cholera outbreak, a patient requires up to four bags a day to balance his/her body electrolytes. We are struggling to plan how we will support newly admitted patients who cannot tolerate oral supplements!"
We thank Americares for their steadfast partnership and support in tackling the chronic medical supply shortages in Lebanon and Palestine. The shipments Americares donates are quite literally life-saving.