For the first time, public hospitals where we refer pregnant women for deliveries are also asking our teams to provide them with oxytocin and magnesium, which are essential drugs to treat possibly deadly post-partum conditions.
“Sadly, we do not always find ourselves able to support [these requests],” said Martins. “The quantities in our clinics and stocks are limited and even if we manage to get an extra order it takes time, because of the importation delays. Due to the complicated and often chaotic public system, shipments of drugs are often taking eight months to reach us, which is simply too long in the context of a health care emergency.”
Overstretched humanitarian organizations
People are also no longer able to afford private medical care and there has been a striking spike in the number of people seeking humanitarian assistance for health care services. Our teams are witnessing it first-hand in our clinics, as more and more people come in for free medical care and ask for other forms of assistance, including food.
In the Bekaa Valley, where we provide reproductive and mental health care as well as medical care for people with chronic illnesses—many of them refugees from neighboring Syria—we are witnessing an exponential increase in the number of people seeking MSF’s medical services. The number of people with chronic health issues assisted by our teams increased by 60 percent since the beginning of last year, and the number of Lebanese patients has doubled.
“We are currently following up and providing medical care to 3,500 chronic disease patients in the Bekaa Valley, specifically in Hermel and Arsal,” said Céline Urbain, project coordinator at MSF’s Bekaa project. “This increase is alarming because we are reaching our limits in terms of medical personnel per patient, which can reduce the quality of care.”