Support to Lebanon


20 august 2020

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Support to Lebanon

Support to Lebanon

Our operations in NORWAC started in the early 1980s with project in Lebanon. Everyone who has been involved in Lebanon over these 40 years has friendship and ties with the country and its people. For all of us in NORWAC, it has therefore been very special and horrifying to watch the news and witness the horrific devastation in Beirut due to the explosion 4th of August. We are thankful that our Country Representative in Beirut, Bendik Sørvig and his family are well, so are our partners and their staff.

The medical services in Lebanon are struggling. Even before the explosion hospitals were facing a really hard time. As a result of the political and economic situation hospitals had to lock down, medical staff did not get paid and medication and equipment were lacking. On top of this, Lebanon like the rest of the world is affected by the COVID-19 situation, which seems to be getting more out of hand after the explosion.


Based on needs identified by partners and friends working in NGO’s, hospitals and the Ministry of Health (MoH), a proposal was sent to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NMFA) requesting support to assist the public hospital, Rafiq Hariri University Hospital (RHUH) with critical infrastructure and equipment in order to enable the hospital to provide their services. We also asked for funds to support training and to procure medication in the field of mental health. This proposal was granted and NORWAC will receive 6 million NOK from the NMFA.


RHUH is the largest public university hospital in Lebanon with 430 beds including 14 theatres. 23 of the 43 beds in the intensive care unit (ICU) are reserved for COVID-19 patients as well as 80 beds for patients with COVID-19 who does not need ICU.

The hospital has been severely affected by the pandemic and was already in need of critical infrastructure prior to 4th of August. After the explosion the hospital experienced a large number of patients, injured patients as the result of the incident and as the result of further spread COVID-19.


NORWAC has coordinated the support with our network in Lebanon and with the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection to prevent duplicate essential procurement. Our support will include an electric generator and a water treatment unit to secure the electricity and water supply to the hospital as well as replacing an industrial washing machine. Procurement of bedlinen and scrubs for the staff is also of the priorities from the RHUH. This is needed to be able to utilize the medical equipment given from other donors.


The hospital has a psychiatric ward with 14 beds, this is closed as a result of the lack of funds and the COVID-19 situation. As today there is no public bed posts for mental health patients according to Dr. Rabih Chammay in Lebanese MoH. To assist the situation NORWAC will cooperate with MoH to train community health workers in mental health, for them to be better equipped to help patients suffering with mental illnesses as first responders. NORWAC will also support critical medicine for psychiatric patients.


The support to RHUH will be implemented by our local partner URDA. URDA is a resourceful partner who we have been working together with for the last five years and they already have an establish cooperation with RHUH.