International Medical Corps began responding to the Syrian refugee crisis in March 2011 by providing health care support on the northern Lebanese border. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are approximately 130,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, concentrated in the North and Bekaa regions. However, this number is increasing every day and refugee registration is expanding to Beirut and South Lebanon. As the winter sets in, International Medical Corps expects even larger influxes of Syrian refugees into Lebanon in the months ahead.
International Medical Corps is the main international NGO health provider in Lebanon and one of UNHCR’s four international implementing partners for the Syrian crisis. We have a well-established regional network through which to implement health programs in multiple locations. To improve the health and well-being of displaced Syrians and vulnerable host populations in Lebanon, we provide primary health care (PHC), secondary health care, health education, capacity building, and medications and supplies for primary health care centers.
PHC is provided through 10 clinics throughout the Bekaa and North regions as well as 1 mobile medical unit covering the remote villages of Wadi Khaled and Akroum in the North. Syrians registered with UNHCR can also access PHC services through International Medical Corps’ Iraqi-supported network in Lebanon. Secondary and tertiary health care services are provided to Syrian refugees through 11 contracted hospitals, with International Medical Corps ensuring admission and covering 85% of the total bill. Our health officers rotate between contracted hospitals to ensure maximum service coverage for vulnerable patients, and carry out daily visits to the field to follow up on cases.
Services that International Medical Corps provides in Lebanon include health consultations for reduced prices, free medication, 100% coverage of diagnostic tests (lab and radiology), and free vaccination. Further, we conduct health awareness sessions for Syrian refugees to increase their capacity to make informed health choices, live healthy lifestyles, and access preventative services. The sessions take place in registration centers, health care centers, or within mobile units and cover basic topics like family planning, hygiene, vaccination, breastfeeding, oral health, and more.
With the situation in Syria deteriorating and refugees flowing into Lebanon, International Medical Corps is assessing all our clinics and partner hospitals to ensure that they have adequate supplies of medication and equipment for emergency situations. Furthermore, to support the expansion of Syrian refugees into South Lebanon and Beirut, we are partnering with Amel, a Lebanese national health NGO.