Daily difficulties, unfair salaries and a lot of anxiety have ended up ruining the already deficient Lebanese health system which, like the rest of the public and private sectors, has collapsed due to the brutal economic crisis.
Many doctors have left due to economic difficulties, but the dentist Mario Nohra and the doctor Lena Eid are from that minority of doctors that resists in Lebanon.
Lena and Mario no longer work “to live, but to survive”, they declare.
Mario has lost seventy percent of his monthly income. First, because he cannot charge in dollars but in the devalued Lebanese pound (LL) and, since he is at the mercy of power cuts, he has had to adapt his patients to the hours when there is light.
The same is true of Lena, who although she does not need to use electrical devices to check on her patients, she cannot charge parents more than 200,000 pounds per consultation, which is equivalent to less than seven euros in exchange.
According to him Lebanese Ministry of Health“about 40 percent of health and medical personnel have left Lebanon because of the crisis.”
Before the crisis, private hospitals accounted for 80 percent of health services, but now very few Lebanese can pay medical bills, forcing hospitals to close or reduce services.
As Dr. Naji Abi Rached warns France 24, “the capacity of hospitals has been reduced to 40 percent”, which represents a threat to the population in times of pandemic.
The Lebanese pound in a tailspin
The health system is crumbling not only due to the lack of doctors and nurses but also due to the shortage of medicines. The Lebanese pound has already lost about 90% of its value against the dollar and, to stop the total collapse, the Central Bank ordered to end subsidies for basic goods and medicines without putting measures in place to mitigate the rise in prices among the most disadvantaged .
In Dr. Lena’s office, some of her patients’ parents have come to ask her to give them a box of painkillers or antibiotics because their son has a fever and they can’t buy medicine.
Overnight, a box of common painkillers, which cost 5,000 LL, is worth 70,000. A price that is not within the reach of more than 70% of the Lebanese population that now lives below the poverty line.
For his part, Mario complains: “In any part of the world, saying you are a dentist means having a good salary, a good social status, except in Lebanon.”