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Every day, thousands of people in Lebanon rush to clinics, health centres and hospitals to meet their basic needs. Sona, a young mother of two, has been seeking medical help for her children. She found quality and affordable services at the Karakusian Primary Health Care Centre in Burj Hammoud, one of the many facilities currently supported by the European Union.
Today, in the same health centre, the EU launched the first two projects of a recently approved package of 70 million Euro, from the EU Regional Trust Fund, in support of the health sector in Lebanon, for all people in need to receive quality services across the country.
The launch event was held under the patronage and in the presence of Caretaker Minister of Public Health, Ghassan Hasbani. "One goal unites international organisations and the Ministry of Public Health; it is to ensure access to health care for the largest number of people in Lebanon", said Minister Hasbani.
"The EU is cooperating closely with the Ministry of Public Health to strengthen the health sector in Lebanon", said EU Ambassador Christina Lassen. "We are working hand in hand to help establishing a sustainable model for the future, eliminating the cost barriers that today prevent some people from receiving the needed healthcare services, while standing ready to support Lebanon in achieving "Universal Health Care" in line with the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030", she added.
The first project, implemented by the International Medical Corps and its partners Premiere Urgence Internationale and Fundación Promoción Social, will support the primary health care system in Lebanon. Primary health care is considered the core of the health system. It goes beyond the treatment of diseases and conditions to provide comprehensive, accessible, community-based care for all. The project will ensure that more than 500,000 vulnerable persons benefit from quality and affordable services to treat conditions such as malnutrition and mental health, and to receive the needed psychosocial support.
"We hope that the program will lead to a Primary Health Care system in Lebanon in which those that need primary health care will seek it without worry of costs or quality", said Eduard Tschan, International Medical Corps’ Country Director in Lebanon, while speaking at the event.
The second project in this package supports secondary health care through UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. The EU has been contributing to UNHCR's secondary health care programme, with the UN Refugee Agency subsidising over 83,000 emergency and obstetric hospital admissions for refugees in Lebanon in 2017 and more than 35,000 hospitalisations since January 2018.
"This programme is a great illustration of how UNHCR and the EU work together, under the leadership of the Ministry of Public Health, to support Lebanese institutions. This support benefits both Lebanese and refugee communities, and will leave a positive impact in Lebanon long after the crisis is over", said Mireille Girard, UNHCR Representative in Lebanon.
The EU's support to the health sector comes as a necessary and urgent response to the tremendous task Lebanon is being confronted with, hosting the highest number of refugees per capita in the world. Since 2014, the EU has implemented projects for a total of 173 million Euro, becoming the first donor in this sector and contributing significantly to the Lebanese authorities' ability to meet the basic health needs of the population.