“A single inattention turned our lives upside down. My child, Muhammad, was admitted to the hospital and put me and my husband into the furnace of the merciless cost of hospitalization. In Lebanon, the calamity is double, as if the parents’ pain is not enough for their little one until they are forced to think about how to secure the cost of his treatment”… With these words, Zainab began talking about her suffering during the journey of treating her son for burns that affected half of his body.
About a month ago, Zainab heard the sound of Muhammad screaming. She hurried to find out what had happened to him, and she was shocked when she saw him stuck in a pot of boiling milk, and she explains, “On that day, my husband brought me milk, and as usual, I boiled it on the fire of a small stove on the balcony, and after I finished I put the pot on the floor for the first time and entered the kitchen to complete my work. At that time, my little boy was in the room, and then he headed towards the balcony, and the disaster struck.
Zainab took her child and took him to the washbasin and began to cool his body with water, and then took him and her husband to the clinic in his town, Tal Hayat, in the north of the country. The beginning of two thousand dollars, so that my next shock would be that the cost of each day of treatment is $ 500, and that he needs to stay for more than a month, except for the cell transplants, of which he underwent six, each costing $ 500.
More than twenty thousand dollars were paid by the white hands to the two-and-a-half-year-old so that he could receive treatment, and Zainab indicated that she found no choice but to publish his story to collect donations, “The Ministry of Health covers only a small percentage of the hospital bill, and on top of that we knocked on its door from We received nothing but promises of assistance, and we thank God that one of the associations covered the cost of three weeks of treatment, while a number of philanthropists and the owner of the “Facebook” page covered the rest of the costs.
The economic crisis that has afflicted Lebanon since 2019 and the resulting widespread poverty and insanely high prices have forced a number of Lebanese to beg for hospitalization and treatment for their children by resorting to social media and associations, so that their children are not deprived of their right to live without pain, suffering and danger. The paradox of life, and last June, Director of International Information, Jawad Adra, indicated that 93 percent of the Lebanese are unable to pay the costs of their medical and hospitalization.
Children on waiting pages
After the accident, Zainab and her son lived in a state of shock for about two weeks, and she says, “He did not accept anyone and did not utter a word. As for me, I did not close an eyelid, and I did not want to eat or drink. Seeing my little boy in pain and the fear of losing him and the possibility of my failure to collect money for his treatment controlled me.” Since our financial situation does not allow us to pay the cost of one day of his treatment, my husband is a daily worker striving to secure the sustenance of his family of three children.
By publishing the story of her child, Zainab succeeded in reserving a seat for him for more than a month in the hospital, while a number of parents hope that they will be able to get out of the vortex of searching for how to collect the amount that their children need for hospitalization, including Ali, who was barely happy with the birth of his daughter Aisha before It took two months until it became clear that she was suffering from an umbilical hernia, and he told Al-Hurra, “The doctor told me at the beginning that her age did not allow her to undergo this surgery, only to discover after a while that she had two additional hernias.”
The son of the town of Oyoun al-Samak in northern Lebanon is trying everything in his power to secure 75 million pounds, the difference between the Ministry of Health’s coverage of the surgery, as he says, explaining, “I found no choice but to send a picture of my daughter and the doctor’s report to a social activist from the Isal Youth Association to publish her condition on his page via the website Social networking is Facebook, perhaps it will be a way to put an end to her pain.” He stresses, “The required amount is large. I am a daily worker responsible for a family of six children.”
A study published by Information International last January on the number of beds and the occupancy rate in Lebanese hospitals before and after the crisis concluded that before the crisis, there were about 10,000 beds, and the occupancy rate ranged between 60%-70%, or about 6-7 thousand. thousand patients, pointing out that “a number of departments in hospitals were closed, and the number of beds decreased to 6 thousand beds, and the occupancy rate ranged between 50%-60%, i.e. between 3 thousand to 3,600 patients, nearly half of the number of patients before the crisis.” “.
Rights blown into poverty
The begging of the Lebanese is not limited to their attempt to secure the hospitalization bill for their children, but some of them are even unable to buy medicine for them, after its price, with the removal of subsidies, reached hundreds of thousands, or even millions of pounds, among them Nujud, who did not find a way to put an end to the abdominal pain that she experienced. Her infant, Maria, suffers from it, except for knocking on the door of one of the activists to display her condition on his page, in the hope that she will be able to buy her medicine, which costs two million pounds.
Even the cost of the transportation allowance to take her daughter to the infirmary is not available, Nujood told Al-Hurra, noting that her husband’s salary from the cheese and dairy factory he is employed in is not enough to buy milk and diapers, “How will he secure the rest of the needs of food, drink and house rent?”
“With the health system in Lebanon reaching the point of collapse due to the many crises that hit it to the core, many families,” according to a UNICEF report issued in April 2022, “can no longer even go to health facilities to obtain primary health care for their children in light of the struggle of many Among the workers in the health sector, who are dedicated to their profession, to maintain the proper provision of health requirements during the crisis.
Last November, Amnesty International called on the Lebanese government to secure medicine at reasonable prices, explaining in a statement how the ongoing economic crisis in Lebanon, along with the government’s disappointing response, imposed enormous pressure on the already fragile health sector, and that in conjunction with the rapid collapse of the Lebanese pound. And depleting the Central Bank’s reserves of foreign currencies, the Ministry of Public Health announced on November 9, 2021 the lifting of foreign exchange subsidies for all medicines except for cancer medicines and some other chronic diseases, with immediate effect. As a result of the lifting of subsidies, the prices of most medicines have skyrocketed.
And last March, the Deputy Director of the Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa in the organization, Aya Majzoub, announced that “the Lebanese government must urgently take other steps to address the scale of the health crisis in Lebanon, and make the cost of health care affordable to people. It also has to raise the budget.” basic health-care centers, strengthen social assistance programmes, and undertake the long-overdue economic and financial reforms necessary to protect human rights.”
“If it weren’t for social media, we would have heard about the death of a number of Lebanese children as a result of their families’ inability to secure the hospital bill,” according to Tariq Amoun, an activist in the “Izal Youth Gathering,” adding, in an interview with Al-Hurra, “we receive many cases.” For children who need treatment, including newborns whose condition requires staying in the hospital nursery for several days, as the cost per night in private hospitals is 300 dollars and 100 dollars in government hospitals, while their parents do not have a single dollar of it, except for other cases of children who need operations Surgical and medical.
Parents no longer care, as Ammoun says, “by mentioning their names, the names of their children, and even their pictures and medical reports. Between being shy about asking for money and preserving their children’s lives, they will certainly choose the second option.” According to Rima Saliba, the president of the “Struggle for Humanity Association,” they beg for his life, so they are ready to do anything in order not to lose their loved one, despite the fact that the right to access treatment and medicine is one of the human rights protected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international agreements, especially the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was ratified. Lebanon on it.
The “Izal Youth Assembly” does not have a financial fund to help the families pay for the costs of their children’s treatment. What it does, according to Amoun, is “raise the case through social media to collect donations, beginning through the gathering group on WhatsApp if the child or girl is from our town, as it includes Expatriates in Qatar, Australia and Saudi Arabia, if the required amount is secured, we do not have to display the case on Facebook through a post and then through a live broadcast so that the case reaches the largest number of benefactors.
Saliba also stresses the importance of the role played by social media, “through which any issue can be communicated as quickly as possible to the largest number of people around the world, and resorting to it means that the citizen has lost hope in securing treatment for his child, and despite the importance of this means, unfortunately, It has not escaped fraud.
Saliba explains, “Some are trying to get money by presenting fake cases, which is something we encountered in the association, such as someone asking for medicine for his child, and when we offer him insurance, he either insists that we send the price for it, or stops responding to our messages. Indeed, there are those who use the names of actual patients to collect money without their knowledge, unconcerned by denying them an opportunity to actually secure the cost of their treatment.”
In order to avoid fraud, the “Izal Youth Assembly” does not hand over the money that it receives to the family, but rather, as Ammon says, “we pay it directly to the hospital after negotiating with its director to obtain a discount, and as a result of our repeated dealings with the director of the Tripoli Governmental Hospital, Nasser Adra, he has responded with gratitude to us in decreasing the value of The hospital bill, and one of the female employees in the hospital often does not hesitate to fill out requests for associations to cover some cases.
What is happening indicates, as Saliba says, “the extent of the gravity of the situation and the degree of humiliation that the Lebanese have reached, and it also confirms the dissolution of the state, its institutions and sectors, especially the health sector, which is essential to classifying any state as to whether it is a failure or not, and despite that, officials do not attach any importance.” To find solutions that save the lives of the young and old Lebanese, as they depend on the efforts of activists, the local community and associations.
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