Since the end of the Civil War, Lebanon has been portrayed by the media, academics, Lebanese politicians and international diplomats as a modern and progressive country, where the food is world class, different religions live in harmony and whose citizens are resilient to episodes of protracted political trauma – it's the Paris of the Middle East; the branch that always bends but never breaks!
What many academics, journalists, and politicians overlook is how public services and social policies – and contestation over them – have shaped people's lives in Lebanon.
The massive explosion in Beirut, on a sunny Tuesday afternoon in August laid bare how politics determines the health and wellbeing of Lebanese citizens. Years of state neglect and rent seeking political decisions led to more 300,000 people being left homeless, over 6,000 seriously injured and 190 dead. The Beirut Blast arrived on top of a COVID-19 induced public health crisis, a protracted humanitarian disaster, years of environmental degradation, currency devaluation and an economic meltdown. All of this has impoverished millions of Lebanese as well as almost one million Syrian refugees who sought sanctuary in the country. One million Lebanese now live below the World Bank poverty line; half the country has no health insurance and a third of the nation have lost their jobs due to decades of economic mismanagement and corruption within government and public services.
A team of researchers combining experts and academics including associate professor at the Faculty of Health Sciences Dr. Fouad Fouad, and colleagues from the American University of Beirut, University of Cambridge and the Imperial College, London, published a report entitled “The Political Economy of Health in Lebanon".
The report aims to show how the health and wellbeing of the people cut across religious and political boundaries, and how the political structures of the Lebanese health and social welfare system have had a negative effect on the health of a whole nation.
To read the full paper, kindly click HERE.
This paper is also available in ARABIC.