Lebanon: cooperation for urgent medical assistance
The United Nations and GIZ are working together to improve medical care for COVID-19 patients in Lebanon. Palestinian refugees, in particular, are thus receiving support in the pandemic.
During the COVID-19 crisis, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) are working together to provide additional support for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. The aim of this cooperation is to protect the Palestinian population more effectively against the virus while easing the pressure on Lebanon’s health system.
GIZ and UNDP have teamed up to support the measures devised by the Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee (LPDC) with a view to improving health care. Three isolation centres with a total of 400 beds are being set up very rapidly in the direct vicinity of the refugee camps to care for COVID-19 patients. Palestinian refugees and the Lebanese population can be treated here. Hospitals are now receiving better equipment, too: new separate COVID-19 wards with additional beds are being set up to reduce the risk of infection within the hospitals. Additional tests and training for staff are making the hospitals safer.
The partnership has short-term and long-term effects, as Abdelnasser El Ayi, LPDC Project Manager, confirms: ‘More beds and additional testing capacity help ease the pressure on the health system in the short term, and also ensure that the hospitals are better equipped after the pandemic.'
Around 250,000 Palestinian refugees live in Lebanon, and many have been there for decades. Nevertheless, very few have a work permit or medical insurance. Poverty and poor health care make them particularly vulnerable during the pandemic: among the refugees, the mortality rate for COVID-19 patients is more than three times as high as in the general Lebanese population. In addition to the pandemic, Lebanon has been affected by a deep economic and currency crisis for some time now, which has led to ongoing supply problems and social tensions.