More than a million people have fled into Lebanon since the conflict in neighboring Syria began in 2011, making it the country with the largest number of refugees per capita in the world.
Many refugees are living in deplorable conditions with their most basic needs unmet. The huge number of extra people in the country has put a severe strain on services, including the health sector. Even where health care is available, the cost of consultations, laboratory tests, and medication is a barrier for refugees as well as for migrants and economically and socially vulnerable Lebanese.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières continues to work across Lebanon to provide these communities with free, quality medical assistance such as treatment for non-communicable diseases, sexual reproductive health care, mental health care, and maternity services. In 2018, we expanded our projects to offer specialist services, such as pediatric intensive care, treatment for thalassemia and general elective surgery.
In Bekaa and Baalbek-Hermel, where the majority of Syrian refugees have settled, we offer primary health care in Hermel, Aarsal, Baalbek, and Majdal Anjar.
We have teams working in two mother and child health centers in Aarsal and Majdal Anjar, and run a specialized pediatrics program in Zahle, which includes emergency consultations, pediatric intensive care, and treatment for thalassemia.
We completed the rehabilitation of a hospital in Bar Elias in July, and towards the end of the year started providing chronic wound care and general elective surgery.
North Lebanon and Akkar
We offer essential primary health care in Wadi Khaled, as well as mental health support in a clinic in Fneideq, for both Syrian refugees and the local community.
In Tripoli and Al Abdeh, we continued to offer chronic diseases care and family planning services and in 2018 we implemented the WHO Mental Health Gap Action Program adopted by the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health, training general practitioners so that they can prescribe medication when necessary, under the supervision of an external psychiatrist.
Since September 2013, we have been managing a primary health care center and a women’s center in Shatila refugee camp, where Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese and people of various other nationalities live in poor, overcrowded conditions with limited services.
We launched a vaccination campaign around Sabra and Shatila in March in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health, vaccinating 10,000 children against measles and polio, and opened a birthing center at Rafik Hariri University Hospital in July. Our teams here assist deliveries and treat neonatal referrals from our Shatila clinic.
In Burj-al-Barajneh refugee camp, we run family planning and mental health care services, and operate a home-based care program for patients with chronic diseases who have mobility problems.
We also operate a home-based care program in Ein-al-Hilweh refugee camp, in Saida, for patients with mobility problems, and continue to support medical personnel in the camp to improve their emergency preparedness and response plan so they can stabilize any injured people caught up in violence.