Beirut, Lebanon – After the devastating Oil tanker explosion In the northern village of Tleil, 28 people were killed and nearly 80 injured. Hospitals across Lebanon opened their doors to patients.

The northern villages and other areas of Akar Province are among the poorest areas in the country. Because the hospital does not have a burn department, many of the wounded have to travel to the capital Beirut for treatment, which takes about two and a half hours. Half an hour’s drive.

The Geitaoui Hospital, a few blocks from Beirut Port, was destroyed in the terrible port explosion on August 4, 2020. It is resuming operations, but like other hospitals in the country, it has difficulty finding medicine and fuel and retaining staff.

“We received 15 patients, but we still have 12 patients left — some are in a critical condition,” Sister Hadi Abi Chebli, the hospital director, told Al Jazeera. “Patients with burns require intense and intensive treatment and require long-term hospitalization for up to two months.”

Charity and goodwill

As the Lebanese pound has depreciated by more than 90% against the dollar, Lebanese hospitals have been struggling to obtain medicines and retain employees for the past two years.

The explosion in Akha on Sunday further exacerbated the already scarce resources of the health sector, and the country’s ability to treat burn patients has plummeted.

The Ministry of Health sought help from other countries. Turkey transported the four wounded to Ankara for treatment, while the ministry also talked with Kuwaiti and Jordanian authorities to evacuate patients and provide medical assistance.

Abi Chebli explained: “In order to treat burn patients, we need a variety of antibiotics and painkillers, as well as supplies to treat wounds, frequent bandage changes, and blood tests,” adding that the hospital can only pay difficult-to-obtain U.S. dollars. Known as “fresh dollars”.

Charities and individuals donated money and materials to the hospital. Abi Chebli said she was very grateful, but the hospital cannot continue to rely on charity and goodwill.

Elsewhere in Beirut, the government-run Rafic Hariri University Hospital is struggling to find enough fuel to keep the lights on and the machines running. Nonetheless, the Akha explosion meant that they had to speed up their plans to open a four-bed burn ward in cooperation with the ICRC.

So far, they have received two patients, one “80% of burns are in critical condition”.

Director Dr. Firass Abiad said that despite the hot summer, the hospital could only run two of its seven generators and was forced to turn off most of the air conditioners.

“This has created difficult working conditions,” Abiad told Al Jazeera. “But at least we haven’t closed any wards.”

‘Can’t do this anymore’

Before the economic crisis in Lebanon, most families in Beirut had to endure a three-hour power outage every day. Now, the electricity is only on for a few hours a day-if any.

Dr. Naji Abirached of Geitaoui Hospitals said that they can only use up to 4 hours of electricity a day, which increases their reliance on diesel and generators.

“This is not normal-honestly, this is a disaster,” he said.

For months, Lebanon has been struggling with severe fuel shortages, both filling up vehicles and powering generators.

The Central Bank announced last week that it would stop its annual fuel subsidy spending of approximately US$3 billion. This news triggered shocks throughout the economy and encouraged distributors to hoard inventory, waiting to be sold at a higher price later.

The subsidy allowed importers and distributors to sell fuel at the official fixed exchange rate of 1,500 Lebanese pounds to the U.S. dollar, but as the British pound fell into chaos, the fixed exchange rate was replaced by an informal exchange rate in the wider market. Economists and analysts say that retaining subsidies will eventually stimulate smuggling, especially into Syria, to sell at a profit.

After the central bank’s decision, the Department of Energy has not yet released a new pricing list for diesel and other fuels. The shortage forces many people across the country to pay higher prices for fuel on the black market, if they can find it.

Mohamad Faour, a postdoctoral researcher in finance at the University of Dublin, told Al Jazeera: “Right now, most people have no access to fuel financially.” “Operational costs. [for businesses] Will increase significantly, because most electricity now uses diesel fuel. “

On Saturday, the American University Medical Center Beirut (AUBMC), one of the country’s top hospitals, issued a distressing statement saying that it had less than two days of fuel, saving the lives of about 150 patients who needed ventilators and dialysis machines. In a state of equilibrium. The Macasséd General Hospital in Beirut also issued a similar statement.

Although AUBMC was able to find a week’s worth of fuel, Dr. Walid El Hout, a surgical resident, said he was worried about patients in the hospital.

“There is no solution to our problem, only a dose of morphine can help us bring pain to tomorrow,” Elholt told Al Jazeera. “We are in a state of panic: we have no drugs, supplies, or electricity to successfully treat our patients and fulfill our mission.”

‘Critical situation’

Sleiman Haroun, the head of the Lebanese Hospital Syndicate, pleaded with the Lebanese government for support.

“I have been in contact with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Energy, and they agreed that fuel importers would give priority to the hospitals,” Harlan told Al Jazeera. “But so far, only a few hospitals have received fuel, and the amount is very small.”

Since the Central Bank has stopped opening credit lines for importers to import part of the subsidized fuel, some importers are hoarding stocks while waiting for the Ministry of Energy to set new prices.

Haroun said the paralysis puts the Lebanese hospital in a “critical state.”

“The hospital handles things every day, or in some cases every hour,” Harlan said.

“We can’t go on like this anymore.”

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