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Shortage of Heart Batteries, Dialysis Filters, and Cancer Medication Outages

Updated on January 15, 2020

“All hospitals, without exception, are currently using the last of their warehouse equipment and medical supplies. Any device or device that is used today has no alternative insurance guarantees”. This was confirmed by Al-Akhbar, the owner of one of the companies working in this field, contrary to all attempts to "reassure" and "absorb" the panic of some official agencies concerned with the health sector in Lebanon.

"Intimidation" practiced by the owners of the importing companies that previously announced that they had imported within only a month and a half of about 5% of hospital needs? However, all current indications portend a dangerous escalation that directly affects the lives of the Lebanese, who today face an attempt to deliberately kill them. Of the seven types of batteries used by heart patients, there are two types that are completely missing from the market, according to the group of companies importing medical equipment and devices, in addition to a lack of measurements of "heart valves" and the filters used in dialysis. This was preceded by the announcement of a severe shortage of sutures used in surgical operations, the discontinuation of two types of gas used for anesthesia, and the frequent use by hospitals of single-use tools with serious repercussions for patients!

Another indication of the accelerating deterioration is the announcement by the Makassed Philanthropic Islamic Association in Beirut, in a statement yesterday (13.01.2020), that work in the emergency department of the Makassed Hospital has been discontinued "except for critical cases that require urgent treatment and hospital stay to continue treatment". The reason “high prices for medical supplies, which are difficult to obtain except in rare quantities and pay most of their price in cash, in contrast to the facilities that were previously granted due to financial scarcity”. As a result, Makassed joins hospitals that have closed some of their departments (especially dialysis and cancer treatment) as a result of the financial and monetary crisis that has been raging for months. As the captain of private hospitals, Suleiman Haroun, renewed yesterday, the alarm rang by announcing that "we have reached the heart of the crisis before the expected date".

Cancer Treatments Are at Risk

The crisis also withdrew from the medicines of incurable diseases, foremost among them are cancer drugs that a number of patients have complained of stopping for weeks. Information confirms that some drugs are no longer on the market, despite the assurances of the Ministry of Health, and the assurances of the pharmacist captain Ghassan Al-Amin, in connection with, that there is no drug crisis due to the application of the circular of the Banque du Liban to secure 85% of the credits in dollars on the basis of the official exchange rate is that drug importers secure the remaining dollars on the black market.

Among the medicines that were lost is puri-nethol, which some patients have now sought to secure from outside Lebanon through “individual initiatives”.

The malignant hematologist, Joseph Jumblatt, explained that this drug is used to treat acute lymphocytic leukemia, and is considered a complementary treatment after chemotherapy sessions are over. That is, it is a complementary treatment with other medicines, and is used over a year or two. And confirms that the treatment remains deficient if it does not include this drug.

Hospitals use the last of their warehouse devices, medical supplies and no guarantees to provide alternatives

Sprycel is also missing, "it is used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia immediately after diagnosis, to treat some types of acute lymphocytic leukemia, and as a chemotherapy treatment". Jumblatt notes that although there may be alternatives to some medications, “it is usually preferred to proceed with the medications that the patient previously started treatment, in addition to that there are drugs that have an advantage in terms of their repercussions and side effects”.

Agents Awaiting Liquidity

The Syndicate of Drug Importers, Karim Jbara, assured Al-Akhbar that there is no drug crisis yet, “but we are not safe in light of the current lack of liquidity and the banks’ lack of commitment to circulate the Bank of Lebanon”. He attributed the interruption of the puri-nethol to the transfer of ownership of the company "which is a precursor to the crisis", while the sprycel "is expected to be secured within weeks". He confirmed the availability of drugs with the agents, "but the delay in delivery may be caused by the delay in the payment of dues to the manufacturers due to the lack of liquidity". This means that the inability of patients to obtain their medication is not due to their discontinuation with drug agents, as it is related to the inability of hospitals and public sector entities (the Ministry of Health and the Lebanese Army) to purchase and secure them from agents who in turn need liquidity to pay them to the exporting companies. This is what refutes what was previously stated by the Ministry of Health sources that the interruption of the medicine is "normal" and is caused by "holidays, holidays and delay in delivery!"

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