Anera distributes three shipments of critical medicines to help ease health crisis
Lebanon’s health professionals and health centers have been overwhelmed by the economic collapse that has engulfed the country. The currency collapse since 2019 has caused prices to skyrocket, making it nearly impossible to purchase essential goods and, more importantly, critical medicines.
Thanks to donations from Anera’s partner Direct Relief, we recently distributed medicines and medical supplies to several health centers to help treat diabetes, immunological problems, psychiatric disorders, and lung diseases. Direct Relief is a nonprofit organization that provides emergency medical aid and support for disaster relief.
The medicines currently distributed by Anera have helped patients still suffering from last year’s port blast and the recent fuel explosion in Akkar, as well as families who can no longer afford to purchase the medications they need.
“We are a government hospital so we have a very limited income. Sometimes we are unable to pay the high cost of medical supplies,” explains Francois Bassil, the chief pharmacist at Saida Government Hospital. “We are grateful to Anera for supporting us by donating masks and gloves, which are vital during this high-risk COVID pandemic.”
Anera has distributed Direct Relief’s donations to five medical centers: the Ajialouna Medical Center, the Psychiatric Hospital of the Cross, the Saida Governmental Hospital, the Rafik Hariri University Hospital and the Karantina Hospital.
“We are a government hospital so we have a very limited income. Sometimes we are unable to pay the high cost of medical supplies.”
Dr. Rose Salameh is the chief pharmacist at the Psychiatric Hospital of the Cross, also known as as Deir Al Salib. She says the multiple crises facing Lebanon have made it extremely difficult to find enough medical supplies to meet the needs of her patients. “We have to scavenge for appropriate medications still compatible with the patients’ needs.”
That frustration was echoed by Rana Adadah, Chief Pharmacist at Ajialouna Organization. “Medical companies are unable to offer us insulin because of the crisis," she says. "Patients with chronic illnesses were left untreated, which was catastrophic. Anera’s donation truly came at the perfect time and can cover our needs for a whole year.”
Diabetes patient Dia expressed her gratitude as well. The 22-year-old says the donation has allowed her to continue her treatment and never run out of the insulin she needs to stabilize her health.
Last July, the government lifted subsidies for more than 1,500 medical brands, both local and imported. That led to a spike in prices. As a result, many families cannot afford their medicines.
Health centers like the Psychiatric Hospital of the Cross have become a refuge for those unable to obtain medicine. Many patients have no immediate family support, and so the hospital grounds and staff have become their only caretakers.
Sister Mona Saad, a nurse at the hospital, says many patients have been left by their families for years. “So it is even more imperative to help them. And, thanks to Anera and the donations of [albuterol inhalers], we are able to treat our patients with breathing problems too." She says patients with psychiatric disorders often are at higher risk of suffocation so the availability of albuterol inhalers is of utmost importance.
Anera responded to the shortage by providing 300 units of albuterol to the hospital and other health centers. “I use the inhalers all the time,” says Nader Ba. “I really can’t live without them... This is saving my life.”
The inhalers also help to treat many Lebanese who are diagnosed with breathing problems that require treatment with anti-inflammatory medications and appropriate inhalers.
“I can’t imagine how we’d survive without this."
Anera has also distributed an antibody medication called human immunoglobulin G to Rafik Hariri University Hospital and the Karantina medical warehouse to support patient care and enhance the survival of immune-compromised patients. Immunoglobulin G (so-called for the heavy gamma-chains in their molecules) boosts antibodies to help them fight infections.
The drug shortage has imposed new challenges for the Lebanese and made them more dependent on humanitarian organizations or travelers from abroad bringing in medicines.
Anera and its donor partners are trying to meet that challenge. As part of the Direct Relief shipment, Anera has supplied Saida Governmental Hospital with important medications they were running out of, including prednisone and albuterol.
Ahmad al-Samadi directs Saida Governmental Hospital. “Anera’s donation granted us a generous supply of critical medicines,” al-Samadi says. “I can’t imagine how we’d survive without this. Anera has become a central figure in humanitarian relief for public health across Lebanon.”