From fighting the pandemic ravaging the country to treating thousands of injuries and performing urgent life-saving surgeries after the Beirut Port explosion in August, Lebanon’s hospitals are continuously overwhelmed.
It was so bad that even vet clinics had to open to operate on people’s minor injuries after the blast. That’s not to forget the hospitals directly affected by the blast such as the Saint George Hospital that was completely damaged.
But that’s not the worst part. Lebanese hospitals are strapped for cash and can no longer pay their employees, let alone proper equipment.
In July, the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) had to lay off over 800 employees, leaving them jobless in a country threatened with economic collapse. It was one of the most heartbreaking days for Lebanon’s medical sector.
However, to the convenience of Hezbollah, hospitals affiliated with it appear to be receiving more government funding than any other hospital across the country.
A document from the Health Ministry, which is run by pro-Hezbollah minister Hamad Hasan, reveals that the Lebanese government is using the country’s health budget to fund Hezbollah’s medical institutions at the expense of others, hence at the expense of the majority of the population.
The document obtained by Al-Arabiya showed that one Hezbollah-affiliated hospital received almost as much as the amount allocated to three prominent Beirut hospitals combined.
In 2020, Hezbollah affiliated al-Rassoul al-Azam Hospital received 14,700,000,000 LBP ($9.7 million at the official pegged rate), an increase of 5,500,000,000 LBP ($3.6 million) compared to last year, according to Al-Arabiya.
Meanwhile, AUBMC, Saint George, and Hotel Dieu, which were catastrophically impacted by the blast and were at the front line of attending to injuries, did not receive the same budget increases. Together, their funding did not exceed 16.4 billion LBP ($10.8 million).
After reaching out to Dr. Hadi Mourad, Al-Arabiya learned that the “budget’s massive addition only targeted Hezbollah medical institutions across the country.”
“The ministry added 15 new medical institutions that were not previously funded by the ministry for the first time,” Mourad said.
According to Mourad, the additions didn’t target specifically Shia areas, nor give bonuses to institutions sponsored by the Lebanese Shia party, Amal Movement. “These bonuses clearly targeted only Hezbollah-sponsored institutions,” he said.
It’s worth noting that U.S. Ambassador Dorothy Shea has previously stated that the U.S. assistance to Lebanon’s COVID-19 response involves avoiding the Health Ministry because of its affiliation to Hezbollah.
It is also worth noting that, earlier during medical donations from abroad, there was an altercation at the Beirut airport when the Lebanese Army impeded health ministry personnel and the minister to receive the donations, which raised questions at the time.