Lebanon was paralyzed in a kink in the supply of vital medication over the last two weeks. The country’s chronic problem with drug shortages (some are decades old) is the result of distributors being unwilling to work with political parties. Lines formed in doctors’ offices as people desperate for the necessary medical supplies were often turned away. The empty prescription pads at pharmacies upset patients who were warned to come back in one week.
As the alternative comes to a head, many organizations are stepping up to help. The U.S. Agency for International Development – through its Family Health Program, which provides drug, nutritional and other health-related services – is preparing to help. “We’re very much aware that this is a crisis,” said Tracey Mahoney, Program Manager, USAID Health Education and Delivery Program. “It’s concerning, not just for Syria but for Lebanon. We want to make sure we’re bringing all of our commodities to the people who need them.”
Several non-governmental organizations are also getting involved. American Association for the Advancement of Science, a nonprofit that promotes scientific research, sent a medical team to help. The Lebanon Association for Humanitarian Aid is making efforts to supply drugs to rural areas.
Meanwhile, Lebanese leaders have held urgent meetings to try to figure out the problem and prevent it from further worsening. Some officials suggested bringing in companies from India to supply the black market.