An appeal made by Lebanese young LC Aun last Friday went viral in the media. In the application, he said that he could not find the necessary medicine for his cancer-stricken brother, the only medicine was running out which could alleviate his pain. “We have only 10 days of morphine left. I don’t know what to do next. “
According to the World Health Organization’s March 2021 report, Lebanon has recorded 26,64 cases of cancer in the last five years, including 11,600 cases in 2020. Although medicines for incurable and cancerous diseases are still subsidized by the state, most of the medicines that the country has been facing in the last few years are running out of medicines.
The health ministry said on Friday that it had approved the subsidy two months ago before importing morphine, but the subsequent approval by the central bank was delayed.
“We have contacted the importing company and agreed to start the process without waiting for the approval of the central bank. Morphine should be available in the market within a week,” the ministry said.
There are 445 registered cancer drugs in Lebanon. According to former health minister Jamil Jabak, the cost of treating cancer patients is “about মিল 200 million annually and could reach মিল 400 million.”
A pharmacist at a hospital in Beirut, who did not want to be named, told the media: “Not all medicines are available in the hospital’s pharmacy and morphine is needed daily in the hospital to relieve the pain of four-stage cancer patients.” We need about 150 to 200 drops of morphine per month and the demand may increase or decrease depending on the condition of the patients. There is no substitute for this medicine. “
He added: “Patients and their families are having a hard time finding medicine. Some can be found on the black market, but only the rich can afford it. Patients who are treated at the expense of the Ministry of Health face a real tragedy. Nowadays, one can get access to medicine only if there is someone close inside.
The ministry said it was making every effort to expedite the import of morphine and asked those concerned to make it a top priority.
Doctor and former MP Ismail Sukkarih, who is fighting corruption in the health sector through the National Health Authority, said there was chaos in the sector.
“It is true that cancer drugs are still subsidized, but it is now theoretical. Medicines are not available and the key to the solution lies with the central bank. It is ridiculous that banks still subsidize one type of coffee but cannot pay enough to subsidize medicines needed for human recovery. Is coffee more important than human life? Dr. Sukkariyah
He added: “Apart from the central bank, greedy drug dealers are the problem because these people are hiding drugs in their warehouses for illicit profits. No one is dealing with them – not the ministry or the parliamentary health committee. “
Sukkariyah says doctors see tragic situations every day. “As soon as I enter the hospital, the patient or their family pressures me for medicine. . Even my fellow doctors who treat cancer patients are helpless in the face of human tragedy. What is actually happening is that the patient’s death is being accelerated due to irregular treatment. No one has the right to shorten human life in this way. ”
President of the Lebanese Society of Hematology and Blood Transfusion. Ahmed Ibrahim said: “Every year thousands of patients are treated and periodic monitoring is done and 2,500 to 3,000 new cases of blood cancer are registered.
“Different treatments are expensive, but they lead to a cure rate of 60 to 70 percent, which is similar to the global results. Due to the lack of necessary treatment, we face the fear of not being able to treat patients, which, unfortunately, can lead to many deaths. ”