Lebanon's economic crisis affected many sectors, including the Hospital and medical industries. Despite prior warnings from hospital owners and physicians, a lack of medication, particularly for cancer and chronic illnesses, threatens the lives of thousands, with no indications of resolution in sight.
A cancer patient's suffering in Lebanon is not limited to paying hospital costs and periodic tests. It has also reached anguish in locating medication following the loss of a significant number in the market, in addition to their prohibitive pricing.
The Lebanese repeatedly appealed to procure the price of treatments and medicine through social media platforms, and many have become dependent on relatives and friends abroad to get them. Amid fear about the composition of the alternative medicine and its high price, in light of the spread of deceived or expired tablets.
Before the crisis in 2019, many cancer patients could not pay the bills for their treatment. Because of the problem the country is witnessing; hospitalization has become a luxury.
The head of the Pharmacists Syndicate in Lebanon, Dr. Joe Salloum, said during a stand organized by several supporters of cancer patients in Lebanon that withholding medicine from cancer patients is equivalent to a deliberate crime, stressing the need to prevent lifting support for cancer medicine or persisting in withholding it from many patients.
Salloum urged the need to place cancer medicines on top of the government priorities and not to leave patients alone in the face of financial crises in the country.
The head of the Barbara Nassar Association for cancer patients supports, Hani Nassar, said, "The last year witnessed the same issue in terms of threatening to lift the subsidy, then withdrawing it and returning to lifting it after three months, noting that the cost of each treatment session was about 25 million Lebanese Lira, while salaries do not exceed Five million Lira."
Nassar warned about raising the subsidy on a drug whose price is six thousand US dollars, for example, which was equal to nine million Lebanese Lira at the official exchange rate, will become 90 million at the exchange rate of 15 thousand pounds. Then to 360 million every month.
The Minister of Health, Firas Al-Abyad, said, "The continuation of the decision to support medicines for cancer and chronic diseases."
Al Abyad, during a visit he made to Makassed Hospital on world cancer day, said that: "there is no change in this regard, and the clause submitted by the ministry to the next government meeting is the best evidence of that."
The Lebanese Government decided to hold a meeting, Monday 6 February 2023, and on its agenda to allow the Ministry of Health advance of 364 billion Lebanese Lira per month for three months, to be paid within a year, to subsidize medicines for cancer, incurable and chronic diseases, raw materials needed for the pharmaceutical industry, and dialysis supplies.
In March 2021, according to a report published by the Global Observatory of the World Health Organization, Lebanon recorded 28,000 cases of cancer during the last five years, including 11,600 in 2020.
Lebanon also ranked first among West Asian countries in the number of cancer cases compared to the population. According to the data, there are 242 cancer patients for every 100,000 Lebanese, with over 17,000 new infections and over 9,000 fatalities from the illness documented in 2018.
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