Add news
Король и Шут - Девушка и граф (English/Japanese cover by Even Blurry Videos feat. ICHIGO TANUKI)
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010June 2010July 2010
August 2010
September 2010October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011March 2011April 2011May 2011June 2011July 2011August 2011September 2011October 2011November 2011December 2011January 2012February 2012March 2012April 2012May 2012June 2012July 2012August 2012September 2012October 2012November 2012December 2012January 2013February 2013March 2013April 2013May 2013June 2013July 2013August 2013September 2013October 2013November 2013December 2013January 2014February 2014March 2014April 2014May 2014June 2014July 2014August 2014September 2014October 2014November 2014December 2014January 2015February 2015March 2015April 2015May 2015June 2015July 2015August 2015September 2015October 2015November 2015December 2015January 2016February 2016March 2016April 2016May 2016June 2016July 2016August 2016September 2016October 2016November 2016December 2016January 2017February 2017March 2017April 2017May 2017June 2017July 2017August 2017September 2017October 2017November 2017December 2017January 2018February 2018March 2018April 2018May 2018June 2018July 2018August 2018September 2018October 2018November 2018December 2018January 2019February 2019March 2019April 2019May 2019June 2019July 2019August 2019September 2019October 2019November 2019December 2019January 2020February 2020March 2020April 2020May 2020June 2020July 2020August 2020September 2020October 2020November 2020December 2020January 2021February 2021March 2021April 2021May 2021June 2021July 2021
News Every Day |

Expat pill couriers: Lifeline in medicine-starved Lebanon

BEIRUT — Barely two hours after Lydia landed from Marseille in France, friends and relatives flocked to her apartment to collect drugs that have vanished from Lebanese pharmacies because of crippling shortages.

They started knocking on her door as early as 7:30 am, before she even had a chance to unpack two suitcases and a backpack stuffed with medicine she had purchased from France for more than $1,000.

"I didn't even have a chance to sleep, but I understand because there's nothing worse than running out of medicine," especially if you have a chronic illness, the woman in her sixties said from her home in Baabdat, north of Beirut.

Lydia, like many other Lebanese expats, has become a courier for family and friends grappling with a raft of shortages due to what the World Bank has termed one of the world's worst financial crises since the 1850s.

As pharmacies run out of hundreds of medicines, including over-the-counter pain killers, the suitcase of a Lebanese expat, once teeming with gifts and duty-free purchases, now resembles a portable pharmacy.

"I brought everything: antibiotics, medicine for hypertension, cholesterol, diabetes, Parkinson's and cancer as well as many antidepressants," Lydia told AFP.

Her parents also recently flew in from Marseille carrying medicine for 12 people in four large suitcases, she said.

The expat deliveries, Lydia said, remind her of Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war.

"The crisis has revived wartime reflexes, especially a sense of social solidarity," Lydia said.

But "what is happening today is unprecedented and surreal," she added. "We have never seen such shortages in medicine or fuel... We have never felt this suffocated."

Lebanon’s foreign currency reserves are fast depleting and the cash-strapped state has started to gradually reduce subsidies on key imports including fuel and flour.

Medicine importers say hundreds of drugs have disappeared from the market, as the central bank owes suppliers abroad millions of dollars and they can no longer open new lines of credit.

For its part, the government accuses importers of hoarding medicine with the aim of selling it at a higher price once medicine subsidies are reduced by the state and drugs become more expensive.

For the Lebanese people, the shortages have triggered a worldwide drug hunt. As for pharmacies, they staged a nationwide strike Friday protesting the lack of supplies.

In the neighbouring island of Cyprus, pharmacists can now spot Lebanese customers scouring for supplies to take back home.

Tracy Najjar made a trip to Cyprus last month with her husband Paul to temporarily escape Lebanon’s crisis, but also to stock up on medical supplies.

“The pharmacist immediately guessed we were Lebanese,” she said.

“He told us that another Lebanese couple had come in two days earlier to buy a tonne of drugs,” she added.

Tracy, who lost her three-year-old daughter Alexandra in the Beirut port blast that killed more than 200 people last summer, said she bought some of the most basic supplies.

They included eye drops, powdered milk, antidepressants and drugs for high blood pressure.

Apart from family and friends, beneficiaries often include strangers who reach out over social media, now a key platform for buying and exchanging medicine.


Certain death 


President Michel Aoun this month pledged to continue subsidising medication and medical supplies selected by the health ministry on a priority basis.

The central bank has for months urged the health ministry to identify priority drugs, but a list has yet to be finalised.

The central bank said last week it would earmark $400 million to support key products including medicine and flour.

The head of the medicine importers’ syndicate said the bank had promised it $50 million a month in subsidies for medicine — just half of importers’ current bills for that period.

Expecting shortages only to worsen, Ahmad, a 58-year-old parking attendant, warned that the situation is turning deadly.

The 58-year-old father of three suffers from high blood pressure and diabetes but can’t find the pills prescribed by his doctors.

“I can not even find the generics,” he said.

He tried to do without for a few weeks but his blood pressure quickly climbed.

He reached out to a cousin in Istanbul and a friend in the United Arab Emirates to secure the medication, at a cost much higher than the subsidised prices he would have paid if available in Lebanon.

“We either die because we can’t find medicine or we die because we have run out of money after spending it all on drugs brought in from abroad,” he said.

“Either way, they are killing us,” he added, referring to Lebanon’s under-fire political class.

Display Lead for: 
Image Position: 

Read also

Paul Pogba next club odds: PSG favourites to sign Man Utd star after ‘£50m contract snub’, Juve & Real Madrid in the mix

Tokyo 2020 Olympics LIVE: Opening Ceremony, Japan finally get Games underway with spectacular opening party – updates

Coronation Street spoilers: Hope Stape decapitates a teddy bear after failing to reunite her warring parents

News, articles, comments, with a minute-by-minute update, now on — latest news 24/7. You can add your news instantly now — here
News Every Day

Learning Baby RHYMES Learning ABC LooLoo Kids Nursery Rhymes and Childrens Songs