In Lebanon, deterioration of health system endangers cancer patients' lives
Clement Gibon for Al Monitor
As Lebanon experiences the most extensive economic and financial crises in its history, cancer patients find themselves in an unbearable situation where lifesaving medicine is becoming too expensive or is not available on the market.
While Lebanon imports more than 95% of the pharmaceuticals available in the local market due to its low pharmaceutical production, the country's financial crisis — which resulted in a dollar shortage — has significantly reduced its capacity to import medicines.
At the same time, the scarcity of public funds is threatening the end of government subsidies for an ever-increasing number of medicines. In November, Health Minister Firas Abiad announced a reduction from $120 million per month to about $35 million in medical subsidies.
In addition to facing a problem related to access to medicines, it is also the cost of hospitalization that has become inaccessible for a large part of the population, according to Taher. The National Social Security Fund has faced a 95% devaluation of its savings, covering only 5% of hospital bills, and many private health insurance providers have shifted to second- or third-class coverage.
This situation has pushed many NGOs and international organizations to denounce the responsibility of the state in this “man-made disaster.” Olivier De Schutter, UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, had declared in November 2021 that the Lebanese government officials have no sense of urgency and are not taking responsibility for an economic crisis that has "brutally impoverished" the population.