In Lebanon, five Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) hospitals provide health services to Palestinian refugees. In June 2017, Defenders for Medical Impartiality (DMI) conducted a field mission in Lebanon to research and document the barriers to delivery of health care inside Palestinian refugee camps. DMI held in-person meetings with general managers of Haifa Hospital in Beirut, Safad Hospital in North Lebanon and Balsam Hospital in South Lebanon. Additionally, DMI met with Dr. Samer Chehade, PRCS Director General in Lebanon. Upon analysis of the documentation, DMI found the main problems that each of the three hospitals face are lack of security, limits to accessibility and insufficient funding.
Violent altercations have disturbed health care delivery at Balsam, Safad and Haifa hospitals, which are located inside the Palestinian refugee camps. In an attempt to ensure a safer working environment, PRCS is seeking to improve communication with the Palestinian factions, which are entrusted with security inside the camps. While improving communication between the hospitals and the camps’ security committees is encouraged, much work remains to ensure the safety of the facilities, staff and patients. DMI calls on the factions to take effective measures that would ensure the safety of the hospitals, including holding perpetrators of violent altercations accountable.
Additionally, roads inside the refugee camps are narrow, complicating access for residents and health care workers into the facilities. The location of the hospitals makes it especially hard for ambulances and patients to reach the facilities’ emergency rooms. DMI recommends that measures be taken to facilitate direct access to the facilities.
PRCS hospitals rely primarily on funding from United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). DMI’s research found significant differences between the amount UNRWA pays and the actual cost of treatment at these hospitals. This disparity contributes to a PRCS budget deficit, which restricts the medical capabilities of its hospitals that already operate at substandard levels. DMI calls on UNRWA to set payments to PRCS-affiliated hospitals at the actual cost of surgical and medical procedures.
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