Following the Beirut blast, Lebanon received donations of at least five field hospitals, including two from Qatar. Despite the catastrophic pandemic, it is only yesterday that authorities accepted to build them!

According to a report entitled “Covid-19 emergency appeal Lebanon” (May, 2020) prepared by the UN an its partners in Lebanon, the Lebanese public sector has only 140 ICU beds, while 300 beds would be availed by the Lebanese private sector. Furthermore, “additional funds are needed to procure the needed equipment to ensure a capacity of 700 ICU beds”.

Today, January 18, 2021, there were 750 Covid-19 patients in the ICU and sadly 59 people died from this illness in the past 24 hours.

A tweet by l’Orient Today (English edition of the l’Orient Le Jour)

Yesterday night, before going to sleep, Bambi watched the MTV News, with tears in her eyes. Indeed, Lebanon’s Covid-19 health-crisis is devastating to its healthcare system, to say the least. If current or new inpatients need to use an ICU bed for reasons not related to Covid19, what will happen to them?

Keep in mind that many of Beirut hospitals were destroyed during the blast. One must also remember the financial crisis that has been going on since October 2019.

As a result, many private hospitals are facing shortages and are not receiving arrears from the government, which is officially bankrupt. OK, corrupt and bankrupt… or bankrupt and corrupt. Who cares in which order now?!

In the middle of this tragic crisis, there is a lockdown with a severe curfew (following more loose times during the holidays) in the hope of delaying the spread of the coronavirus and alleviating the pressure on the healthcare system.

It is in the middle of this chaos, again in a country where corrupt minds can bring ammonium nitrate, resort to Ponzi schemes, or even build buildings without any protection from earthquakes, that Bambi will share with you the following story: Resourceful yet exhausted healthcare providers at a Beirut hospital (called the Rizk Hospital) started rapidly building extra patient rooms in freight containers to welcome arriving Covid-19-patients lacking oxygen (and risking death!). Well guess what happened? A group of police officers came to stop them. Guess why?! Because they did not have a construction permit from the municipality!! Should we cry or laugh to this absurdity?! Did the country’s authorities ask citizens for the permission to destroy their city? Here we have citizens saving lives! The least their country can do is to thank them, especially that Lebanon’s sectors have been collapsing, one after the other (banking, health, political, etc.). Well, thank Goodness, with the pressure of the media and social media outcry, the authorities came to their senses at the end of the day. This quick construction continued.  

A tweet of an Agence France Presse (AFP) journalist, Mr. Jean-Marc Mojon about the Hôtel Dieu de France Hospital in Beirut, as re-shared by his colleague, Ms. Roula Douglas (from l’Orient Le Jour)

Now, to come back to the donations of field hospitals, just five days following the Beirut blast on August 4, 2020, countries around the world, some poor ones, and foundations rallied to help Lebanon. At least three of them sent field hospitals, including Qatar (2), Russia (1), Iran (1), Jordan (1), and the Philips Foundation (1). This in addition to medical equipment from around the world, including poor countries:

Thanks to all the generous donators. Most likely, some of the medical equipment may have been used, as needed and bravo for that. However, for unknown reasons to the population, the two field hospitals from Qatar remained stored for over 5 months, despite the crying need!!

Luckily, and finally, Lebanese officials, once again came back to their senses… but after five full months. They finally gave their approval to build those field hospitals:

Was their motivation not to do so sectarian? Perhaps not agreeing on which part of the country to place it in or which part of the population to serve? Was their reason corruption-related (God knows how their shenanigans work)? Or was it just a mere mismanagement or… stupidity?

As usual, the Lebanese population will never officially know the motivation underlying the fiasco.

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