Lebanon’s Crisis Threatening Children’s Health

April 20, 2022

  With Lebanon’s health system being stretched to breaking point by so many crises, impoverished families can no longer afford to even access basic health care for their children – as many dedicated health workers struggle to keep operations running during the crisis

NEW YORK/BEIRUT (April 20, 2022) ­ – The ripple effects of the global economic situation – with heightened prices and increased inflation – are exacerbating Lebanon’s calamitous crisis, with grave consequences for children’s health, UNICEF said in a report released to coincide with World Immunization Week (WIW).

This will cause more disruptions in the health sector, already beset by a major exodus of medical professionals, a hiring freeze by health facilities and limitations on imports of medications and equipment that have seriously affected the quality of healthcare for women and children.

The report, A worsening health crisis for children, points out the critical drop in vaccination rates has left children vulnerable to potentially deadly diseases such as measles, diphtheria and pneumonia. Routine vaccination of children has dropped by 31 percent when rates already were worryingly low, creating a large pool of unprotected children vulnerable to disease and its impact.

Keeping the cold chain for vaccines running is critical and the rising fuel prices pose new threats to essential services, such as vaccine delivery, despite efforts to rapidly increase the use of solar power.

“With 80 per cent of the population living in poverty, many families cannot even afford the cost of transportation to take their children to a health care centre, and many are no longer able to provide the food and nutrition their children need to survive and thrive,” said Ettie Higgins, UNICEF Representative.

Lebanon’s National Nutrition Survey 2021 shows that the key nutritional indicators for young children are poor from the very beginning of life and worsen over time. More than 90 per cent of children do not meet the standards for minimum meal frequency, dietary diversity or acceptable diet during the crucial period for growth and development up to age 2.

Support is critically needed to prevent a further deterioration of the health and nutrition situation and protect the most vulnerable women and children as Lebanon reels from an economic meltdown, COVID-19, the aftermath of the 2020 Beirut Port explosions, and now, the global economic situation.

“With the compound crisis showing no sign of abating, concerted action is critical to prioritize children’s health. Lebanon cannot afford children to be in poor health and nutritionally deprived”, said Ettie Higgins. “UNICEF reinforces its call to the Lebanese government and all stakeholders to scale up efforts to vaccinate all children against vaccine-preventable diseases and to improve the nutritional well-being of children and women.  

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Notes to editors: 
Full report available here: https://uni.cf/3OqNO98
Multimedia including videos of families and children affected by the crisis here and here
 

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 About UNICEF
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to pursue a more equitable world for every child. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization, by providing health care and immunizations, safe water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF USA advances the global mission of UNICEF by rallying the American public to support the world’s most vulnerable children. Together, we are working toward a world that upholds the rights of all children and helps every child thrive. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.

For more information, contact: 
Mackenzie Dougherty, UNICEF USA,
212.922.2551, mdougherty@unicefusa.org