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Providing health care services to refugees in Lebanon

By Nicole Robicheau
About an hour’s drive south along the coast from Beirut lies the five-story 75-bed Hamshary hospital. Run by the Palestine Red Crescent Society, it was initially set up to provide health services to the surrounding Palestinian refugee camps, but the hospital is open to anyone in need.
“Vulnerable patients come to our hospital because they know we won’t ask for money,” says Dr, Riad Abou el Inen, the hospital director . “If this hospital doesn’t exist, Palestinian people in Lebanon will suffer, vulnerable people will suffer.”
A large influx of Palestinians refugees came into Lebanon during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.A large influx of Palestinians refugees came into Lebanon during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. The Palestine Red Crescent Lebanon branch was created in 1969 with the aim to provide health and social services to Palestinians living in refugee camps in Lebanon. In addition to the Hamshary hospital, the branch also runs four other hospitals and four primary health clinic.
Jamal Mohammed Al Sharaydi was born in the Ein El Helwi camp not far from the hospital. He started undergoing kidney dialysis about a year ago.
“My father and my mother were living in Palestine and came here in 1948 and settled in Ein El Helwi where they had children and I’m one of those children,” said Jamal. “I’m 50-years-old and lived all my life in the camp.”
There are 18 beds in the kidney dialysis unit. One hundred patients  are seen per month, and more than 1,000 dialysis treatments are given.
“I stopped working, my children help me,” says Jamal. “I come here on Thursdays and Mondays and my day is spent. When I finish the dialysis, I go back home tired and I stay put.”
Since the Syria crisis, many more Syrians are also accessing services, and this has increased in the last seven or eight months according to the hospital director. Sana’a Mohammed Quoshqu, originally from Damascus, received a phone call one day that her son had been in a car accident.
“I came here to see him at the hospital…thank God everybody here helped him,” said Sana’a. “The doctors provided him with the ultimate care, they are treating him now and they operated on him many times.”
Canadian Red Cross has been supporting the hospital thanks to a partnership with the Government of Canada, by supplying the hospitals with medicine, equipment as well as rehabilitating the medical warehouses.
Dr. Mohamed Hammoud is the director of the pharmacy and medical equipment department and has been working at the Hamshary hospital since 1991. He’s thankful for the new and improved medical stores. Part of the rehabilitation of the medical stores for example, involved installing a chute from the ground floor to the basement, to more easily bring in equipment.
“Before it’s very difficult to work…it’s very easy now to work with these things,” Dr. Hammoud. “It was very old before, without a ceiling, without good lighting…there’s a big difference from 1991 up until now, with our services and equipment.”

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