To complete its plan for confronting the spread of COVID-19 in Palestinian camps and communities, the LPDC opens departments in Baddawi’s Safad Hospital
As the country entered the fourth outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, a period which, according to the head of the National Committee for Corona Vaccine Administration, Dr Abdel Rahman al-Bizri, is the most dangerous stage with close to 2,000 afflicted per day in addition to a significant increase in the rate of positive tests, the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee (LPDC) continues its efforts to enhance the capabilities and readiness of the Palestinian health sector. The LPDC targets the resistance and prevention of the spread of the virus among residents of Palestinian camps and gatherings – who live in dire economic and social conditions, exacerbated socially and economically by the repercussions of the Lebanese crisis in ways more catastrophic than for Lebanese citizens.
In support of its aim, the LPDC completed during the first and second stages of its ‘Response to address the COVID-19 virus inside the Palestinian camps and communities’ plan to expand the capacities of the Palestinian health sector in terms of personnel and equipment and to secure the largest possible number of vaccines for the residents of the camps and communities.
It completed the preparation of a dedicated floor for the new coronavirus department at Al-Hamshari Hospital in Sidon, installing six intensive care units and sixteen regular care units, along with the provision and equipping of two ambulances as well as quarantine centers. Additionally, the LPDC supplied the Humanitarian Call Hospital in the Ain al-Hilweh camp in Sidon with an intensive care department for coronavirus patients, providing six intensive care units and training medical staff.
During October and November 2021, the committee completed its restoration and equipping project in the New Safad Hospital in Beddawi camp – the second-biggest camp in terms of population density, hosting a total of 24,300 Palestinians. The hospital was opened in coordination with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, UNRWA, the Ministry of Health and other partners to become the third complete COVID-19 unit to be delivered during the year.
This unit was inaugurated on November 13, 2021, in the presence of Dr Hassan Mneimneh, the former head of the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee; Ashraf Dabour, Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon representing the President of the State of Palestine and Mahmoud Abbas; Celine Moyroud, the UNDP official in Lebanon; Samira Khairallah, team leader in Lebanon for German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ); Dr Younis Al-Khatib, President of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society; Claudio Cordone; Director-General of UNRWA in Lebanon; as well as representatives of the Palestinian factions and the People’s Committees.
The project was designed and implemented to the highest standards to protect the medical staff and to provide quality health services to Palestinian refugees and other beneficiaries in need regardless of nationality. The total cost of $1.6 million covered design, rehabilitation and equipment expenses for the following divisions:
- COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit for severe cases (7 beds)
- COVID-19 Advanced Care Department (9 beds)
- Department for patients with mild cases (14 beds)
- Emergency Department and Outpatient Clinics (5 clinics)
- COVID-19 test lab
- The kitchen and the laundry section, in addition to two ambulances, a generator and a UPS
- A radiology department, a special section for pediatric patients, and a dialysis section will be opened at a later stage
The committee is currently working on completing a second phase at the Al Hamshari Hospital in Sidon and equipping Al-Buss Hospital in the Tyre region – a historic hospital that the International Red Cross established in the 1950s – with six intensive care beds, twenty beds for regular care, an emergency department, a radiology department and a laboratory, in addition to continuing campaigns for free PCR tests in cooperation with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.
The committee’s efforts are appreciated by donors and beneficiaries, as well as by many international bodies. The positive engagement is also evident in the daily coordination with the Red Crescent in the camps and with the UNRWA Health Department, in addition, of course, to the Lebanese Ministry of Health, to ensure that the outbreak of the new mutation is confronted with the greatest level of preparedness by raising the level of quality.
This is especially true during this challenging stage that the health care sector in Lebanon is going through as, according to Sleiman Haroun, head of the Syndicate of Owners of Private Hospitals, it is currently operating at less than 50% capacity for reasons that range from shortages in medicines, medical supplies and even oxygen, through to the emigration of medical and nursing staff and others.