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Public hospital says it will shut its doors on Thursday if the government fails to pay

Public hospital says it will shut its doors on Thursday if the government fails to pay

The COVID-19 emergency entrance to Sibline Governmental Hospital. (Credit: João Sousa/L’Orient Today)

BEIRUT — One of Lebanon’s public hospitals has threatened to shut its doors this week if it does not get funds urgently needed to purchase medical supplies and pay employees.

Sibline Governmental Hospital, 20 km south of Beirut, said in a statement it would close down as of Thursday, July 15.

“In our statement, we called on the Health Ministry to support us with LL3 billion and a raise for our staff and employees, who now earn as little as $40; we are waiting till tomorrow to see if the ministry will respond to us,” Ali Al Barraj, the hospital’s controlling doctor, told L’Orient Today.

The Health Ministry could not immediately be reached for comment.

Lebanon’s medical practitioners and public officials have long warned that hospitals may not be able to provide patients with life-saving surgery and urgent medical care due to the government’s failure to reimburse private and public hospitals, which stems from the country’s increasingly dire financial crisis.

One week ago, the Union of Governmental Hospital Workers called for late salaries to be paid and living allowances to be increased, warning that public health workers were “financially, economically and psychologically exhausted.”

Human Rights Watch and medical workers have been warning of Lebanon’s crisis endangering the health sector since late 2019. “We have been calling on the government to make every effort to use the resources at its disposal to meet its minimum obligations under international law and reverse the erosion of Lebanese peoples’ access to adequate health services,” Aya Majzoub, a Lebanon researcher for Human Rights Watch, told L’Orient Today.

“Many reasons cause the collapse of the health sector in Lebanon; the lack of responsiveness by the state, and its inability to respond to the crisis,” Majzoub added.

The potential closure of Sibline’s public hospital comes as Lebanon faces a new wave of COVID-19 cases, spurred on by the arrival of the highly contagious Delta variant. On Tuesday, the country recorded 494 new cases — the highest number in nearly two months. Only 1.1 million people have been fully or partially vaccinated against the disease, less than a quarter of the population.

 

Update: This breaking news story has been updated to add context.


BEIRUT — One of Lebanon’s public hospitals has threatened to shut its doors this week if it does not get funds urgently needed to purchase medical supplies and pay employees.Sibline Governmental Hospital, 20 km south of Beirut, said in a statement it would close down as of Thursday, July 15.“In our statement, we called on the Health Ministry to support us with LL3 billion and a raise for...