Lebanon’s Crisis Impacts Cancer Patients Amid Medicine Shortages
This article originally appeared on anera.org. Anera is a long-term partner of CMMB’s Medical Donations Program.
Cancer and Surgical Patients Reliant on International Medical Aid
Pharmacy shelves are empty, hospital stocks are nearly depleted and home medicine cabinets are bare. Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy are finding treatment more uncertain as Lebanon’s economic and social crisis deepens.
The public health sector has been overwhelmed by the COVID pandemic and nearly paralyzed by the economic downturn. Essential medicines are in short supply.
Zeina Hamdan, the head pharmacist at the Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon (CCCL), says that these challenging circumstances have “hit the health sector hard, undermining many hospitals’ performance, status, and ability to provide all medication to its patients. At CCCL, we failed to get cancer medications for all our patients, and must rely on donations.”
Most families can no longer afford to cover their basic expenses like rent, tuition, food and gas. Chemotherapy, like all other therapies and treatments, is now unaffordable and unavailable for the majority of the population. The grim situation has forced most patients to stop treatment for life-threatening medical conditions and diseases.
True to its mission to respond to humanitarian emergencies, Anera is helping to provide cancer patients with free life-saving medications.
“I have been fighting leukemia for more than two years. It was a shock at first, but I grew optimistic that my family and I will have the strength to beat the disease.”
Aya, a 16-year-old patient at CCCL, says, “I have been fighting leukemia for more than two years. It was a shock at first, but I grew optimistic that my family and I will have the strength to beat the disease. The experience has taught me a lot. I’ve become more positive in my outlook and rejoice in every moment.”
Working closely with local establishments, Anera’s team delivers essential medications to those who need it most. Anera’s medical aid donor Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB) recently sent these cancer medicines along with medical supplies to treat chronic illnesses in Lebanon. CMMB is a humanitarian organization dedicated to supporting and treating young cancer patients.
The donations include a collagen-based dural graft used to restore and repair the dura mater — the membrane that envelops the brain and spinal cord.
CMMB’s Timely Donation Allows Chemotherapy Patients to Continue Their Life-saving Treatments
The shipment also included chemotherapy agents used to counter the increase and spread of cancer cells and the chemotherapy drug mitomycin, which is used to treat a wide range of cancers.
Anera provided a substantial part of the donated medicines to CCCL. The non-profit medical institution was established in 2002 by a Lebanese-American. It is devoted to the care of pediatric cancer patients.
“Most donations provide cancer medications for adults and children are left out of the picture,” Hamdan says. “Anera has reversed this shortage with CMMB’s generous and timely donation. One patient had been waiting at the hospital when the medication was delivered by Anera and we were able to treat him right then on the spot.”
“I’m so happy that I can continue my treatment with these medicines,” Aya says.
Anera also distributed donated medicines and supplies to other hospitals across Lebanon, including the Rafik Hariri University Hospital, AUBMC, Geitaoui Hospital, Hotel Dieu de France, Bikhazi and the Psychiatric Hospital of the Cross. We also delivered a portion of the shipment to a few charitable dispensaries.