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Liban. Accès aux soins. Hermel.


“All I want is to be able to live decently”

Fatima sits in front of her in-laws' house, where she lives with her husband and only daughter, in Hermel, in the north of the Bekaa Valley. Lebanon, December 2020. © Karine Pierre/Hans Lucas for MSF
A growing number of Lebanese people have been knocking on MSF clinics’ doors over the past year, unable to cover their medical fees anymore - particularly in remote areas. In our clinic in Hermel, in the northern part of the Bekaa Valley, the number of Lebanese patients with non-communicable diseases requesting our services more than doubled between 2019 and 2020.

    Fatima lives in Hermel, in the north part of Bekaa Valley, with her husband and only daughter. Unable to afford their own home, they have to share one room in the house of her in-laws.

    For this 58-year-old Lebanese woman, who suffers from severe complications due to diabetes, making it through each day has become a real challenge.

    “We have always been poor, but at least before we were able to cope,” says Fatima. “Two months ago, my husband lost his job. He was working in a vegetable store but, as there were fewer customers, they let him go. I used to work as a cleaner but I can’t work anymore because I was diagnosed with diabetes five years ago and since then my health has got a lot worse. I’ve lost sight in both eyes and developed a serious foot injury that prevents me from walking. I always need Hiba, my daughter, by my side to help me. I have constant pain throughout my body; sometimes it’s unbearable.

    MSF does home visits to check on me and they provide me with the medications I need. Without MSF, I’d have to rely on people’s charity to get them. Our daughter works from time to time in a clothes shop after school and that’s our only income. We eat mostly lentils, bulgur wheat and potatoes; a lot of potatoes. It’s not a very good diet for my diabetes, but that’s all we can afford.

    I don’t feel well physically or emotionally. I cry a lot. I feel guilty about my little girl, Hiba, who has to bear responsibilities beyond her age and has to take care of us. Apart from the MSF psychologist, I have no one to talk to. I don’t want to add a burden on to the shoulders of my daughter or my husband. And the rest of my family, they live in Beirut, far from here. I can’t think of anything comforting. The economic crisis has been the final straw. All I want is to be able to live decently.”

    MSF in Lebanon

    MSF is providing free medical care for the most vulnerable people living in Lebanon, whether they are Lebanese, refugees or migrant workers. The organisation is present in about 10 different locations across the country. Our services include mental health, sexual and reproductive health, paediatrics, vaccination and non-communicable diseases. With a team of over 600 members, MSF conducts around 150,000 consultations every year from north to south Lebanon.

    MSF first worked in Lebanon in 1976 and has been present in the country without interruption since 2008.