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MSF Pediatric services in Zahle

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In March 2017, MSF opened a Paediatric unit in Elias Haraoui Governmental Hospital in Zahle, Lebanon, to increase the access to free specialised health care for the most vulnerable populations in the Bekaa valley.

    Through the Paediatric ward, that has a capacity of 28 beds ; MSF provides free paediatric medicine and surgeries for children between 28 days and 15 years old, from all nationalities.


    18-month-old Bayan, who had severe dehydration and diarrhoea accompanied by a high fever, was admitted to the paediatric ward that MSF runs in Elias Hraoui Governmental Hospital in Zahle. She had been vomiting while barely eating, and suffering from lack of activity and durable fatigue for almost a week.

    The doctor recommended that Bayan be taken to a hospital after her condition became critical. Her family couldn’t afford to go to a private hospital, so they took her to WAHA (Women and Health Alliance) clinic where she was referred to Elias Hraoui Governmental Hospital where MSF runs a paediatric unit.

    The child stayed at the paediatric ward of the hospital for more than a week to be treated, where she was given fluids for rehydration and salts to treat her diarrhoea and malnutrition. But Bayan did not get better. Due to the severity of her case, Bayan was transferred to MSF paediatric intensive care unit, where she could be treated and monitored closely.

    Bayan has a sister called Yasmine, and they both live with their parents in a refugee settlement in Bar Elias. Their mother, Mona, has only one wish: that the situation in Syria so that the family can go back to Aleppo.


    Sobhiya, holding her grandson, Mohamed, she says, “My daughter, Amera has delivered her son Mohamed at home and not in a hospital, due to the difficult financial situation faced by her family. The size of the baby was very small, that’s why the midwife told the family that Mohamed is not in a good condition." Since then, the family hasn’t stopped visiting hospitals. Mohamed’s family were collecting money from relatives to be able to pay every visit to the hospital until they heard about a pediatric department run by MSF in Elias Hraoui governmental hospital in Zahle, where free health care services are provided.

    Mohamed, 7-months-old, lives in a refugee camp in the Bekaa valley with his parents and his brother Ali, who was also born at home. As for his grandmother Sobhiya, she lives one kilometer away, and she regularly come to visit them.


    Amara is the youngest in a family of 10 children. Since her birth, she has suffered from chest and breathing problems, so she was admitted to the paediatric ward that MSF runs in Elias Hraoui Governmental Hospital in Zahle, where she stayed for 10 days.

    Amara’s mother, Rakad, is very grateful for the free services that her daughter received from MSF in the hospital. Since she was born, Amara’s health situation was putting burdens on her parents who can’t afford the cost of her treatment.

    Rakad lives with her husband and 10 children in a refugee settlement. In addition to Amara’s health problems, two of Rakad’s children suffer from a physical disability and require treatment. All that Rakad wishes for is that her children get better, and the situation in Syria goes back to normal so the family can return.

    Layal Issa

    Layal Issa, a paediatrician specialised in onco-heamatology began her work with MSF in July 2017 at the paediatric department run by the organization at the Elias Hraoui Governmental Hospital in Zahle, Bekaa.

    In addition to her work with Médecins Sans Frontières, Layal works in two dispensaries run by the Lebanese Ministry of Social Affairs in southern Lebanon, heads a charity for children with cancer from the most vulnerable populations, and provides them with free treatment.

    She divides her week between Beirut where she resides, the South as well as the Bekaa where she works. Layal’s face does not show fatigue, but happiness and joy. She affirms that working with the organization combined two of her passions, her love for humanitarian work and her devotion to paediatrics, her field of specialization.

    "I have always believed that every human being has the right to high quality medical care and is entitled to be treated with dignity, which is the organization’s core principle, since our services target the most vulnerable without discrimination and our patients receive free medical high quality care.”

    She summarizes her career in humanitarian work in one sentence, “If a person can make another person happy for a day, then why not” ?