Faced with crippling shortages of fuel, medicine and supplies, and an exodus of doctors, Lebanon’s university medical centers have stopped performing some advanced medical procedures, and one prominent medical institution warned over the weekend that it was on the brink of being forced to shut down.
The problems at the university hospitals are exacerbated by the country’s severe economic crisis, which has affected all levels of society and hastened the departure of large numbers of specialized academic doctors abroad. Doctors have seen an 80-percent drop in their wages after the collapse of the value of the Lebanese pound and are further discouraged by the deterioration of medical services and quality. (See a related article, “For Many Universities in Lebanon, Survival May Be at Stake.”)
Fuel shortages are particularly dangerous for hospitals. The increasingly long hours of power cuts from the state’s failing electric grid force institutions to rely on diesel-fueled generators to keep equipment running, and lives are at stake when the power goes out.
Lebanon has five university hospitals with a maximum capacity of about 1,300 beds, in addition to teaching hospitals under the supervision of university professors that also train new doctors, according to Sleiman Haroun, president of the Private Hospitals Syndicate in Lebanon.