Since the end of the year 2019, the lives of the Lebanese people have turned into a series of tragedies, politically, economically, living and even healthily.

And the paradox in Lebanon - in the opinion of observers - is that all crises are interconnected, and it is difficult to work on solving one without the other, and this reality was evident in the health sector that the Corona pandemic was not only afflicted with as the rest of the world, but it collapses as a result of a group of crises that start with the economic collapse, and pass The Beirut Port exploded, leading to the inability to secure medical supplies and medicines and the exhaustion of health personnel.

In this report, Al-Jazeera Net reviews the reasons and figures that reveal the exposure of the health system in Lebanon to an actual danger that may double the threat to the health of the Lebanese people unless it is remedied.

1. Corona and hospitals exhausted

Under the slogan of "catching the breath of the health sector", Lebanon entered a phase of "complete closure" from the evening of Saturday, November 14, until the end of this month, with a decision from the government, after Coronavirus infections recorded record numbers.

The number of infections in the country has exceeded the threshold of 100,000, and about 839 deaths have been recorded, according to the statistics of the Ministry of Health, and Lebanon - which has a population of about 6 million people - is registering at a weekly rate about 11,000 cases of the virus.

In the context, the head of the Parliamentary Health Committee, MP Assem Araji, indicates that the general closure this time aims to allow the health sector to restore its readiness after it has exhausted all its beds allocated to Corona patients, as work is underway to increase the number of intensive care beds from 300 to 600 beds And doubling the number of isolation beds to about 1,200 beds, considering that the number of beds allocated for Corona (about a thousand beds) is still insufficient.

Araji points out - in a statement to Al-Jazeera Net - that the Corona virus was a fatal blow to the health system after the successive repercussions of the economic crisis, and after the explosion of the Beirut port on August 4, 2020, which destroyed a number of hospitals and destroyed the Al-Roum and Jeitaoui hospitals, which are currently working with limited capabilities.

1600 doctors and nurses are the

state of "extreme fatigue" that the health sector complains about, which Araji links to Corona injuries that affect the medical body, as there are currently about 20 Lebanese doctors in intensive care, and more than 50 doctors in home quarantine after the recovery of others, in addition to the injury of more than 1100 nurses And a nurse, noting that the total of doctors and nurses' infections with the virus since March 2020 until today has exceeded 1,600.

And before March 2020, the situation was better at the level of Corona, as it did not exceed 4 thousand injuries, according to Araji, but the number of injured quickly doubled after the explosion of the port, which contributed to the mixing of the Lebanese and the displacement of thousands of families.

Araji indicates that Lebanon relies only on about 28 private hospitals to receive Corona patients out of 130 private hospitals, compared to 31 government hospitals, all of which work to receive those infected with the virus.

The MP believes that one of the defects of the health system is reflected in the number of beds, which total 14 thousand beds in all of Lebanon, of which only 30% belong to government hospitals, compared to 70% due to private hospitals that have more than 150 billion Lebanese pounds in the hands of the state (100 Million dollars according to the official price).

Araji states that Lebanon received health support from some donor countries that sent field hospitals last August to treat the injured in the port explosion, but they were not intended for Corona patients.

400 doctors immigrated from Lebanon this year, and others are waiting for the completion of their immigration procedures (Reuters)

2. The import crisis

However, the crisis of the health system in Lebanon is not limited - in the opinion of experts - to the conditions of hospitals and the repercussions of Corona, but also exceeds the obstacles facing the mechanism of importing medical supplies and medicines, due to the banking restrictions imposed on securing import liquidity for more than a year.

The crisis has begun to manifest itself with the loss of medicinal items, including medicines for heart patients and cancer, and university hospitals have indicated more than once that they will apologize for receiving patients, due to their inability to provide medical and surgical supplies.

While the Central Bank continues to secure subsidies for the cost of importing medicines and medical supplies according to the official exchange rate of the dollar (1507 pounds), there are increasing concerns about the lifting of subsidies on various basic commodities due to the depletion of the remaining hard currency reserves at the Central Bank.

Here, the Syndicate of Medical Supplies Importers in Lebanon, Salma Asi, confirms that the import crisis is exacerbating day after day as a result of the circulars that she describes as "ill-considered" issued by the Central Bank.

She told Al-Jazeera Net that things became more difficult after importing companies were required to pay the amounts owed by them to the bank in Lebanese pounds in cash, not by bank checks or transfers.

Are the tragedies of the Lebanese traded?

Assi considers that the failure of imports "is what leads the health system to collapse," especially since Lebanon does not manufacture anything in this field and imports 100% of medical supplies, and in previous years it had incurred about 400 million dollars to cover its cost in light of the work of 126 Lebanese companies. In the sector of importing medical supplies.

She added that the companies importing medical supplies have more than 4 million dollars withheld at the Banque du Liban, and the value of the old bills four months ago is about 52 billion Lebanese pounds (35 million dollars according to the official price) that they cannot secure in cash.

On the other hand, the official in charge of the support file at the Central Bank of Lebanon, Numan Nadour, defends, saying that had it not been for the bank’s policies that it considers continued to support the insurance of medicines and medical supplies at affordable prices as a result of the multiplicity of dollar prices in the parallel market, hospitals would have closed their doors and the Lebanese would have been unable to secure the cost of their treatment.

Ndour on Al-Jazeera Net accused importers of medicines and medical supplies of "investing in the tragedy of the health system," noting that the owners of these companies are merchants in the first place and "try to reap huge profits from various quarters in exchange for discrediting the Central Bank," he said.

He pointed out that the Central Bank paid about one billion dollars this year to cover the expenses of medical supplies and medicines, stressing that Lebanon imports huge quantities to the health sector, wondering, “Why do we not suspect that medicines and medical supplies will cross open smuggling lines with neighboring countries so that companies can benefit from their trade from the currency difference?”

Hospitals suffer from a shortage of medical supplies in addition to the crises of medicine and a shortage of staff (Reuters)

3. Doctors emigration

If the health system pays the price for the problems between the importing companies and the Central Bank, it suffers in return for a moral and logistical setback after decades in which Lebanon assumed the title of "East Hospital" due to its medical competencies.

In this context, the head of the Lebanese Doctors Syndicate, Sharaf Abu Sharaf reveals that the economic crisis that the doctors are suffering from has led to a deterioration in their conditions, which negatively affected the health system even though the doctors did not fail to treat Corona patients, reminding that they treated in one night the day the port exploded more. Of 6 thousand wounded.

The event that Abu Sharaf describes as the heavy loss of Lebanon in light of its difficult circumstances is the emigration of about 400 doctors in the past months, pointing out that there are hundreds of others who are preparing their immigration papers after they have found many job opportunities abroad with their competencies.

Abu Sharaf told Al-Jazeera Net that doctors ’income has become low after the collapse of the pound, and that the state does not support them, and some of them are unable to secure the most basic needs of life, because banks are also holding their savings.

He pointed out that Lebanon includes about 15 thousand doctors, and it is afraid of the emigration of its medical competencies, especially since most of them are university professors, which means that the repercussions of their loss will reflect judiciously on medical students and the level of medical services.

Abu Sharaf recalls that the doctors recently paid a heavy price in their lives and bodies, as 5 Lebanese doctors died with the Coronavirus, and more than 20 doctors were injured during the port explosion, and 3 of them were infected with their eyes and will not practice the profession again.

4. The tragedy of nurses

What affects doctors in Lebanon also applies to workers in the nursing sector, as this sector includes about 16,000 male and female nurses (of whom only 9,000 work), and they work with "live meat" according to the description of the Syndicate of Nurses Mirna Doumit to Al Jazeera Net.

Doumit points out that nurses are facing an unprecedented crisis in the history of their work, which puts hospitals in a critical situation, because a large proportion of nurses are exposed to arbitrary dismissal from their jobs, and the value of their monthly salaries has become less than $ 150.

According to the Nurses' Syndicate, a large number of hospitals resort to expelling their nurses in exchange for handing over each nurse working for more than 12 patients, to reduce their expenses at the expense of the patient and the nurse's health.

According to the Syndicate's figures, 49% of Lebanese nurses have university degrees rather than professional degrees, and they are looking for opportunities to emigrate, and among them are about 500 nurses who have already immigrated.

Doumit expects the number of migrant nurses to increase at a rapid rate, "because they lost hope in building a future in Lebanon after they lost 6 nurses in the port explosion, and there is a nurse who recently died in Corona."