ADFA-supported Beirut Healthcare Center in
Dire Financial Straits
The financial meltdown in Lebanon has caused significant hardship for the people.
Eighty percent of the population live below the poverty line. Access to healthcare is a major challenge. Since 2013 St. Ephrem Healthcare Center has treated more than 50,000 cases. The management and staff believe that everyone has a right to a certain level of healthcare.
Lebanon has been grappling with a worsening economic crisis since 2019, with the value of the national currency plummeting by nearly 65 percent.
Previously, $1 US was equivalent to 1,500 Lebanese pounds (LBP), but now it is worth almost 130,000 LBP. This financial meltdown has caused significant hardship for the people of Lebanon.
The economic crisis in Lebanon has left 80 percent of the population below the poverty line, with Syrian and Iraqi refugees being hit particularly hard.
Access to basic necessities, including healthcare, has become a major challenge. Medical treatment and hospitalization have become exorbitantly expensive, with many people unable to afford them. Even basic medications are now almost impossible to find, and the cost of imports has put them out of the reach of people struggling to make ends meet. As a result, many have to rely on the black market, further exacerbating the country’s economic woes.
At St. Ephrem Healthcare Center, the management and staff believe that everyone has the right to a certain level of healthcare and treatment, regardless of their religion or nationality. However, the healthcare center’s ability to continue providing this care has been significantly reduced due to its own economic challenges.
Without financial support to cover expenses and staff salaries, the healthcare center is losing doctors who can’t afford to work without adequate compensation.
The Syriac League, the organization that runs the healthcare facility, now urgently needs financial support to ensure that they can continue serving patients and providing them with the medical care they deserve.
Since its establishment in 2013, St. Ephrem Healthcare Center has treated more than 50,000 cases. Open on weekdays from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm, it provides a range of services, free of charge, to patients in need. On average, 15 to 20 people visit the healthcare center every day, with 90 percent of them receiving medication. The healthcare center therefore serves nearly 500 patients each month, offering essential medical care to those who would otherwise have little or no access.
St. Ephrem Healthcare Center provides medical consultations for every patient who visits, either on a walk-in basis if the appropriate doctor is available, or by appointment. In addition to general medical care, the healthcare center offers stomatology services and specialized treatments for chronic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension. Emergency aid is not available at the healthcare center.
Currently, consultations are free of charge, while before the currency collapsed, it cost 5000 LBP, which was the equivalent of $3.33. The cost of dental treatments now range from $10 to $30 depending on the type of treatment.
The healthcare center houses a small pharmacy managed by pharmacist Dina Yaaqoub. Medications are provided with a medical prescription, and a digital medical file is created for each patient. All medications are distributed monthly, for free. The "Anera" organization consistently supplies the pharmacy with the necessary medications and covers any shortages based on monthly inventory. In addition, the pharmacy sometimes receives medications as donations from various benefactors.
St. Ephrem Healthcare Center has made agreements with St. Marc laboratory to administer blood tests and provide X-rays; and also with Dr. Ibrahim Dunia, ophthalmologist who offers free consultations on Thursdays to patients who have booked appointments through St. Ephrem. The healthcare center employs two full-time staff members: Dina Yaaqoub, who serves as the pharmacist and handles administration and accounting, and Emily Esper, who works as an assistant. Unfortunately, there is no insurance available for these employees.
All these expenses are barely being covered these days by the Syriac League, and there is no financial support to the healthcare center from other parties.
It is clear that unless financial assistance is provided soon, St. Ephrem Healthcare Center will be forced to close its doors.