The health system in Lebanon – a country which hosts over 850,000 registered Syrian refugees – has continued to crumble in recent years due to social and political unrest, economic collapse, and the Beirut blast.
Healthcare for refugees living in Lebanon
Home to approximately 6 million people, more than a quarter of Lebanon’s population is now made up of refugees. This influx of people has put immense strain on the country’s economy and infrastructure and this is particularly felt in the health sector. Lebanon's national services, such as education, housing, water and electricity are suffering from a lack of investment and the pressure of providing for a growing population with such specific needs.
Despite the efforts of the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health in supporting primary and secondary healthcare for refugees, the cost of consultations, laboratory tests, and medication remains a barrier for a significant number of refugees.
Our activities in Lebanon
MSF ensures access to free, high-quality healthcare for vulnerable people, including refugees and migrant workers. Our activities include reproductive health services, general and intensive care, treatment for non-communicable diseases, and routine vaccinations for children, in Akkar, Zahle, South Beirut and in the Bekaa valley. We also provide treatment for children with thalassemia in Zahle.
In 2021, we opened a new clinic to respond to the medical needs of migrant workers who have been impacted by the economic crisis. There are approximately 250,000 migrant workers in Lebanon, in addition to over 1.5 million refugees, mainly Palestinians and Syrians, many of whom live in precarious conditions in overcrowded camps. MSF activities in the eastern and northern areas of the country have been developed to cover the needs of these people, often facing limited access to medical care.
COVID-19 dealt yet another blow to the overstretched health care system. Some health care workers left the country, while many health facilities in Beirut that were damaged in the port explosion in 2020 remained unrepaired.
MSF supported the COVID-19 response by temporarily transforming our hospital in Bar Elias into a COVID-19 treatment center during the first months of 2021. Our teams also assisted with vaccinations for people most at risk, such as the elderly, medical staff, and detainees, and deployed mobile teams to vaccinate communities in the remote area of Akkar, in the north of Lebanon.