(Photo credit: Reuters)
According to a report released by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) on 20 April, the number of maternal deaths in Lebanon has nearly tripled as a result of the economic crisis and its effect on the availability of healthcare workers.
The report says that the crisis has put children’s health at risk, especially among Syrian refugees residing in the country.
The report outlined Lebanon’s previously “remarkable success” in the reduction of maternal deaths, but said that numbers had risen between 2019 and 2021, from 13.7 to 37 deaths per 1,000 live births.
One third of the children in Lebanon were not able to receive healthcare in October of last year, and infant mortality rates had “increased dramatically among refugees in four provinces assessed, from 65 neo-natal deaths in the first quarter of 2020 to 137 in the third quarter,” according to the report.
Forty percent of doctors, especially those who work with children, and 30 percent of midwives have left the country, severely affecting the quality of Lebanon’s medical services, the UNICEF report added.
“Repeatedly, anguished parents and families are unable to access basic health care for their children – as many dedicated health workers struggle to keep operations running during the crisis,” said Ettie Higgins, the UNICEF representative in Lebanon.
Lebanon’s fuel shortages have had a negative effect on the ability of healthcare facilities to perform adequately.
A UN-led plan had previously been put in place to provide fuel support to the country’s hospitals, but was halted at the start of the month.
The World Food Programme (WFP), along with other UN agencies, have reportedly provided over 10.4 million liters of fuel to 350 water facilities and 272 hospitals across Lebanon.
Despite this, however, the country is still in need of urgent support “to sustain operations and scale-up critical humanitarian activities,” UN officials have warned.