Lebanon’s hospitals are stretched to the limit

August 31, 2021

Sweaty doctors examine patients on stretchers in the waiting room of Lebanon’s largest public hospital. Air conditioning has been turned off, except in operating rooms and storage rooms, to save fuel.

Medical staff are struggling to find a replacement for saline when the hospital runs out of it. The shortage is enormous and the nursing staff is exhausted. And with a new surge of coronavirus cases, Lebanon’s hospitals have reached their limits.

The country’s health sector has been the victim of multiple crises that have plunged Lebanon into a downward spiral – a financial and economic crisis exacerbated by outright government failure, rampant corruption and a pandemic with nowhere to go.

This collapse is all the more dramatic because just a few years ago, Lebanon was a leader in health care in the Arab world. The rich and famous came to this small Middle Eastern country of 6 million people for everything from serious hospital surgery to plastic surgery.