American Univesity of Beirut

The 2020 blast in the port of Beirut: can the Lebanese health system “build back better”?

​​On August 4, 2020, a cache of approximately 2750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate precariously stored in the port of Beirut, Lebanon ignited and set off a massive high order blast that destroyed large parts of the ancient city. The strength of the blast is considered one of the largest explosions recorded in modern history.

The health outcomes and health systems effects of the blast that resulted in over 200 casualties, 7000 injured and over 300,000 internally displaced persons.

This disaster, combined with factors such as significant corruption and mismanagement, a refugees crisis placing Lebanon as the world's highest ratio of refugees to population, national protests against the government and an 80% devaluation of the Lebanese currency, and a horrific increase in COVID19 especially in the post-blast phase, may have masked some of the fragmentation and structural weaknesses in the care system.

Two months after the explosion, the weaknesses surfaced again and the collapse of the health care and social services systems appears to be imminent.

With the blast highlighting the systemic geopolitical and health system issues that persist in Lebanon, a group of experts and researchers including Dr. Mohamad Alameddine, Professor at the Health Management and Policy department in the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) at the American University of Beirut (AUB), issued a study based on the UN 'Build back better' (BBB) approach, a concept that positions disasters as a stimulus to prompt a nation to develop greater 'resilience.  

Given multiple and competing post-explosion reconstruction priorities, this editorial briefly examines the requirements for a “build back better" scenario in Lebanon.

To read the full study, please click here. ​


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