Lebanon hospital warns it will be forced to turn off ventilators 'within 48 hours' amid fuel shortages

Lebanon hospital warns it will be forced to turn off ventilators 'within 48 hours' amid fuel shortages
One of Lebanon’s top hospitals warned on Saturday that it will be forced to shut off ventilators and other lifesaving equipment in less than 48 hours amid fuel shortages.
3 min read
14 August, 2021

One of Lebanon's oldest and most prestigious university hospitals warned on Saturday it will be forced to shut off ventilators and other lifesaving equipment within 48 hours, as fuel shortages grip the country.

The American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) will run out of supplies to power the equipment by Monday morning, the hospital warned in a somber statement on Saturday, adding that 40 adults and 15 children will "die immediately". 

The AUBMC said it is facing "imminent disaster" due to threat of a forced shutdown from Monday, as a result of fuel shortages.

"This means that ventilators and other lifesaving medical devices will cease to operate," AUBMC statement said. "Forty adult patients and fifteen children living on respirators will die immediately."

"One hundred and eighty people suffering from renal failure will die poisoned after a few days without dialysis. Hundreds of cancer patients, adults and children, will die in subsequent weeks and very few months without proper treatment."

The hospital appealed to international aid agencies, including the UN, the WHO and UNICEF to supply it with enough fuel "before it is forced to shut down within 48 hours".

The AUBMC also appealed to the Lebanese government, which it considered "fully responsible for this crisis and the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe, and for any incident of harm or death resulting from the inability to offer medical care at AUBMC as well as other hospitals and medical services providers in Lebanon who are facing the same reality".

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Lebanon has for decades suffered electricity cuts, partly because of widespread corruption and mismanagement in the small Mediterranean nation of 6 million, including 1 million Syrian refugees.

The situation deteriorated dramatically this week after the central bank decided to end subsidies for fuel products - a decision that will likely lead to price hikes of almost all commodities in Lebanon, already in the throes of an unprecedented crisis, soaring poverty and hyperinflation.

Over the past days, hundreds of businesses, including malls, restaurants and food deliveries, have shut down due to diesel and gasoline shortages. People wait for hours in long lines at petrol station to fill up their tanks.

Some gas station owners have been refusing to sell, waiting to make gains when prices increase with the end of subsidies. On Saturday, Lebanese troops deployed to petrol stations, forcing the owners to sell fuel to customers.

Several bakeries have already shut down, sending people to wait in hour-long lines for bread.

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According to experts, the current fuel in the country will not last more than a few days, a fact that has sent tremors across multiple industries.

People currently get an average of two hours of electricity a day from the notoriously corrupt state company that has cost state coffers more than $40 billion over the past three decades. Many private generators that fill the gap have had to stop due to diesel shortages.

Several other private and public hospitals in Lebanon face similar shortages and have said they are running out of fuel and medical supplies.

Lebanese hospitals are also facing severe shortages of medicines and medical products amid the country's unprecedented economic and financial crisis.

"When lives are lost because of a fully preventable lack of electricity and fuel... it will be a moment of infamy, a moment unlike any that Lebanon has experienced since World War I and the famine which cost a third of the population of Mount Lebanon their lives," the AUBMC statement said.

"The AUBMC administration insists that all those in positions of responsibility immediately put aside all their disputes and work together to prevent this imminent disaster."