Support to the COVID-19 response plan of the Palestine Red Crescent in Lebanon. The Lebanon branch of the Palestine Red Crescent (PRCS/L) is the only mandated secondary health care service provider for the 500.000 Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon, and they are facing extreme challenges to maintain the delivery of these mandated services. UNRWA used to be one of the main donors of PRCS/L, covering 85% of the costs of patient referrals to the 5 hospitals PRCS/L is running. However, due to funding challenges UNWRA on 1 March officially communicated to PRCS/L that they will reduce the coverage of these referrals to a minimum. This has a massive impact on the ability of PRCS/L to sustain the life-saving services provided in their 5 hospitals.
The current economic crisis in Lebanon is exacerbating the already vulnerable financial situation of PRCS/L; with an unpegged exchange rate and the capacity of suppliers deteriorating, not being able to maintain bid validity at government rate, the capacity of PRCS/L to sustain the regular supply of consumables and life-saving equipment to their hospitals is impeded heavily.
From their mandate, PRCS/L enjoys full acceptance, respect and access within the areas under their jurisdiction, providing services in the Palestinian camps and its outskirts. With regard to their COVID-19 response plan, PRCS/L is the main coordinating actor between Palestinian factions and stakeholders in Lebanon, and they are working closely together with the Lebanese Red Cross. LRCS and PRCS/L have set-up protocols for transportation of COVID-19 cases (agreed with PLO, Palestinian embassy, UNRWA and other Palestinian authorities within the camps). This means PRCS/L will facilitate access to LRCS ambulances inside the camps for transportations. PRCS/L themselves have 17 ambulances and their EMS staff and volunteers will be trained by Emergency Medical Teams of LRCS, in case PRCS has to start doing quarantined transportations. Currently the focus is on containment, working risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) activities within the camps, informing people about the importance of screening, isolation and treatment, and ensuring that in close coordination with LRCS and UNWRA suspected patients are transported to the designated hospitals outside the camps.
An epidemic outbreak within the camps would go beyond the capacity of PRCS/L. If this would happen, PRCS/L could use their 5 hospitals as treatment places, isolating and designating an area of the hospital for monitoring and treatment of moderate COVID-19 cases. At the same time, PRCS/L will continue RCCE activities in the communities on handwashing, social distancing, recognising symptoms and home-based care.
Palestine Red Crescent in Lebanon and Netherlands Red Cross