February 25, 2021

Lebanon: Facing the daily strain of economic, medical, and psychological crises

Lebanon is facing multiple overlapping emergencies that have had dire consequences. The country’s ongoing economic crisis has made private health care prohibitively expensive, leaving more people reliant on the public health services. The COVID-19 pandemic and the massive explosion that devastated Beirut on August 4, 2020, have put additional strain on the already stretched public health system.

The country now faces a growing shortage of medical supplies and essential medicines (such as those used to treat chronic diseases), leaving the most vulnerable people at risk. Lebanon also hosts the largest number of refugees per capita in the world, which means that many of the displaced people living there have already endured traumatic experiences.

SEMA US provides free health care services, addressing the medical needs of Lebanese people, refugees, and migrant workers alike. Through our health activities in various locations, SEMA US teams are directly witnessing the deteriorating situation. We spoke with patients about their experiences and the mounting challenges they face.

“At the end of the month, there’s no money left for medicine”

Amina, 34, is a mother of four. She and her family arrived in Lebanon in 2015 from Flitah, Syria. Since then, they have been living in an informal tented settlement on the outskirts of Arsal, a town at the north of Bekaa Valley near the Syrian border.

On the day this photo was taken, Amina took her son to SEMA US’ clinic. Her youngest son, 18-month-old Ahmed, was diagnosed with anemia about four months prior. “He looked very sick. He was very pale and ate very little,” Amina. “The doctor prescribed an iron supplement and advised us to feed him more vegetables and beans, since we can no longer afford meat.” Anemia is linked to iron deficiency and is common among people who have limited access to certain types of food such as meat or peas.

Thanks to SEMA US team’s supervision and medication, Ahmed is doing so much better as of this writing.

Learn more about how you can help make a difference: www.sema-us.org

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