Lebanon: MSF helps to bridge gaps in struggling healthcare system in Tripoli

Lebanon: MSF helps to bridge gaps in struggling healthcare system in Tripoli

News & Events > News & Stories > Lebanon: MSF helps to bridge gaps in struggling healthcare system in Tripoli

Ataa is a 23-year-old patient at the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) supported primary healthcare centre in Tripoli Governmental Hospital, in Lebanon’s second largest city. She visits the health centre with her husband Adnan for her routine antenatal check-up. Lebanon’s deep economic crisis makes it very difficult for them to afford daily necessities. “The crisis is affecting everyone,” said Adnan, 26 who takes whatever work he can find each day—but his earnings aren’t always sufficient to cover his family’s needs. “Our income is in Lebanese pounds, but everything is priced in US dollars. Nowadays, we have to travel long distances—sometimes outside of the city—just to buy something for a lower price.”

Twenty-five year old Rima is also a patient at the health centre. She described the barriers she faces to access quality healthcare. “If you don’t have enough money or can’t pay immediately, you won’t have access to health services. Plus, the national social security fund now covers very little, with the currency decline. One has to pay a lot of money for hospitalization.”

Ataa and Rima are like many others who struggle to access healthcare in Tripoli, Lebanon. Living conditions have deteriorated over recent years due to limited housing, depleted infrastructure, lack of clean water and sanitation, and inadequate access to social services. The unemployment rate exceeds 35 percent and half of the city’s residents live below the poverty line[1]. The escalating financial challenges have made it increasingly difficult for individuals to access essentials such as food, water, and medical supplies.

These factors take a severe toll on people’s mental well-being and cause significant stress, trauma, and depression. Many of Tripoli’s healthcare centres are struggling to provide residents with the medical care and medications they need due to a lack of staff and supplies. The high cost of care also puts healthcare centres out of reach for many. On top of that, the economic crisis has increased the cost of services in private clinics and a shortage of many essential medicines.

Recognizing the urgent need for accessible and equitable healthcare in Tripoli, in June 2022, MSF launched a project to support the city’s primary healthcare system. The project supports four primary healthcare centres in different areas in Tripoli, focusing on non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, and mental health services. This support includes providing technical guidance to local health workers, subsidizing the cost of non-communicable diseases consultations for patients at the supported facilities, capacity-building, social work, and donating medicines.

Lebanon: MSF helps to bridge gaps in struggling healthcare system

Through the activities, MSF helping to provide holistic and patient-centred healthcare. “We put the patient at the core of healthcare,” said MSF project coordinator Ivan Sinaga. “This means that our teams prioritize the needs, preferences, and well-being of each patient, tailoring medical care to address their specific circumstances, as a treatment should be comprehensive and not just medical.”

In a patient-centred approach, the focus is on fostering a collaborative and respectful relationship between healthcare providers and patients, ensuring that medical decisions consider the patient’s values and input. 

“We prioritise empathy, inclusivity and responsiveness to people’s individual needs,” said Sinaga. 

From June 2022 to December 2023, MSF staff in Tripoli supported 1,554 non-communicable disease consultations, 1,843 mental health consultations, 3,175 health promotion sessions for 28,717 participants, donated three tons of medications, conducted 116 training sessions for health workers, and paid stipend of 28 local health staff.

“We are collaborating with partners, including the Ministry of Public Health and the primary healthcare facilities in Tripoli, to implement a patient-centred approach and increase access to primary healthcare,” said Sinaga. “Given the current situation and challenges, an increasing number of people will seek care at primary healthcare centres. This necessitates collective efforts from everyone to make it more accessible.”

About MSF

MSF is an independent international medical humanitarian organisation providing free healthcare to people in need, without discrimination. MSF first began work in Lebanon in 1976 and its teams have worked in the country without interruption since 2008.

MSF teams currently work in seven locations across Lebanon, providing free medical care for vulnerable communities, including Lebanese citizens, refugees, and migrant workers. MSF’s services include mental healthcare and psychosocial support, sexual and reproductive healthcare, paediatric care, vaccinations, and treatment for chronic diseases. With more than 700 staff in Lebanon, MSF teams provide around 150,000 medical consultations every year.

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