European Union Ambassador to Lebanon Ralph Tarraf and UNHCR Representative in Lebanon Mireille Girard visited Rafik Hariri University Hospital today. They met with the hospital director Doctor Firas Abiad and the medical staff, who are relentlessly working to ensure the continuity of critical healthcare, including during this time of crisis, for all people in need.

Beirut’s Rafik Hariri University Hospital has been at the forefront of both the COVID-19 and the port explosion response, after other hospitals in the capital had been heavily damaged. On August 12, in the aftermath of the blast, the European Union signed an agreement to provide EUR 3.6 million in emergency support to Lebanon’s public health system through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Our assistance made it possible to rehabilitate a ward at the Rafik Hariri University Hospital catering for 72 patients. The European Union funded the full rehabilitation works and part of the medical equipment, increasing the hospital’s capacity to cater for an additional 36 patients at regular wards, as well as additional 5 intensive care unit (ICU) patients.

This new support is extended to six hospitals across Lebanon that are treating a significantly higher number of COVID-19 patients. The additional bed capacity contributed to freeing up space in the selected hospitals for other interventions, and recently enabled hospitals such as Rafik Hariri University Hospital, to cater for the victims of the Beirut explosion.

“As the hospital is on the forefront of the COVID-19 response in Lebanon, the Rafik Hariri University Hospital has received the largest share of COVID patients requiring hospitalization in the country. At a time where we are witnessing record numbers of new cases, this support from the EU through the UNHCR is much needed, and will allow us to expand our bed capacity and serve a larger population” Doctor Abiad said.

“Every life matters and by supporting hospitals like Rafik Hariri University Hospital we build more capacity to make sure more lives can be saved” said Ambassador Tarraf. “Through our donation we hope to ensure the continuity of critical healthcare and essential and life-saving services for all people in need. We stand together with Lebanon and our donation to this and other hospitals is helping to rehabilitate key facilities, provide needed equipment and expand the hospitals’ capacity to cater for more patients at this difficult time”.

“For UNHCR, the COVID-19 response is about saving lives. Since the onset of the pandemic, and with the support of the EU and other donors, we have been supporting the national response to ensure that all communities in Lebanon – Lebanese, refugees and migrants – are safe, and have access to the necessary testing, treatment and isolation”, said UNHCR Representative Mireille Girard.

UNHCR’s COVID-19 support to hospitals will cover 800 additional beds and 100 additional ICU beds in total, including ventilators and other advanced equipment, as well as medicine stocks. Since February, UNHCR teams deployed all efforts to build dedicated hospital expansion facilities or rehabilitate existing unused sections and refurbish them with new medical equipment. The latter will remain the property of the hospitals after the pandemic, with the aim to cure many more patients long after COVID-19.

In light of the rapid spread of the virus in recent weeks, UNHCR is currently fast-tracking the deployment of ventilators and other ICU equipment to hospitals across the country to help them face the increase in patient admissions.

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