Lebanon: Cholera outbreak after nearly three decades
After Syria, where a cholera outbreak has now spread over most of the country, affecting 13 of the 14 governorates, on October 6th, 2022, the Minister of Public Health (MoPH) in Lebanon has also officially declared a cholera outbreak in the country.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is in Lebanon helping provide access to water, set up sanitation systems, and provide medical aid.
As of October 26th, 2022, the total number of Cholera cases confirmed by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) stands at 346 with a total of 14 deaths, and a cumulative of 913 suspected cases. Even though confirmed cases are so far still mainly recorded in the north, and northeast of the country (districts of Bekaa, Akkar, and Tripoli), cases were detected in the district of Mount Lebanon, central Bekaa, and south of Lebanon.
Water, waste and healthcare context
The Lebanese water, waste management and electricity networks are old, and leaking as they are not properly maintained, with inadequate water supply and water treatment infrastructure as a result.
The current economic and energy crisis in Lebanon has further exacerbated access to water supplies and sanitation in the country.
Additionally, the country’s healthcare system is in disarray. There is a severe shortage of medical supplies and diagnostics, which increases the reliance on donor support and may affect rapid and adequate response capacity if cases continue to spread across the country.
Responding to the outbreak
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has mobilized teams to raise awareness on the symptoms, treatment and prevention of cholera in the concerned areas: for now, in the Bekaa valley, and northern governorates, as well as all other MSF clinics in Lebanon: South Beirut, Tripoli, and Bar Elias.
The MSF Bar Elias Hospital, in the Bekaa region of Lebanon, is being adapted to receive cholera patients with a capacity of twenty beds. As part of preparations to open treatment centers, the MSF teams have procured medical items that can treat up to 3,125 cholera patients.
In coordination with different humanitarian actors and the Ministry of Public Health, MSF is constantly monitoring the evolution of the situation to respond where it is most needed.