Humanitarian aid inflows spur growth in Lebanon’s healthcare sector
“Perhaps the first thing refugees fleeing a war zone need is medical attention. It is no surprise, then, that Lebanese hospitals have been busier than usual since war engulfed Syria in 2012. According to a recent UNDP study, in fact, in 2014, humanitarian aid inflows focused on Syrian refugees have spurred 1.76 percent in additional growth for the healthcare sector, according to a UNDP study. That year, UN agencies and affiliates supported 180 primary healthcare centers and 65 hospitals throughout Lebanon. With a swell of new patients, particularly in 2013, hospitals have experienced positive growth and have consequently invested in their infrastructure and service provision. “When these hospitals have more business, they are going to buy more medical supplies and more medications from pharmaceutical companies,” says Walid Hallassou, general manager of GlobeMed Lebanon. GlobeMed is the third party administrator that UNHCR has contracted to help it manage its healthcare response. “They are going to employ more doctors, more nurses and so on,” he adds.
At times, healthcare facilities also received direct, in-kind aid from UN agencies. Over $1 million were used to purchase roughly 6,200 items of medical equipment for primary healthcare centers in 2014 alone. Hospitals, primary healthcare centers and even the Ministry of Public Health also received training for staff and support to hire new professionals — at least 81 new professionals were hired with direct UN support in 2014, according to the UN.
Healthcare aid to refugees and affected Lebanese communities has also included direct provision of medication, which has sparked growth in Lebanon’s pharmaceutical sector. According to a 2015 Business Monitor International report on Lebanon’s healthcare expenditures, pharmaceutical sales in Lebanon jumped from $1.3 billion in 2012 to $1.46 billion in 2013 — and then again to $1.59 billion in 2014. Pharmaceuticals are also playing a bigger role in Lebanon’s economy: drug sales as a percentage of GDP increased from 3.05 percent in 2012 to 3.37 percent in 2014, the report found. As part of the support to affected Lebanese communities, $6 million worth of pharmaceutical products were purchased by UN agencies and distributed to primary healthcare centers and hospitals. Unfortunately, numerous pharmaceutical companies contacted by Executive — including Omnipharma, BroadMed, Omnilab and Medex — either did not respond to requests to comment or declined to provide any information about particular growth within their companies…[Continue reading over at Executive Magazine]