The paediatric service of Beirut Governmental Hospital Quarantine, destroyed by the 4th August explosion in Beirut, was reconstructed by Switzerland. On Wednesday 28th April 2021, the paediatric service will be handed over to HE the Minister of Public Health, Dr. Hamad Hasan, by HE Monika Schmutz Kirgöz, Ambassador of Switzerland in Lebanon.
The Beirut’s port explosion on August 4th 2020 took a heavy toll on human lives and caused massive destruction in the surrounding of the port. Public facilities were destroyed. Among these was the Governmental Hospital Quarantine, a reference public hospital for paediatrics in Lebanon, annually treating about a thousand children and babies from a socially and economically vulnerable population, including refugees. Its capacity to provide healthcare came to a halt.
Quality healthcare for socially and economically vulnerable children
As an immediate response to the blast, Switzerland ensured the continuity of healthcare for vulnerable children in Beirut: a few days after the explosion, an emergency, temporary facility for children and mothers was set up in the severely damaged Saint George Hospital. Patients of Hospital Quarantine were referred to Saint George for hospitalization with Switzerland’s financial support. One month later, the rapid repairs provided by Switzerland in the main building of Hospital Quarantine allowed a temporary paediatric unit to open and receive children again in a safe environment.
In parallel, Switzerland reconstructed a full-fledged paediatric service at Beirut Governmental Hospital Quarantine. This self-implemented project, whereby the Embassy of Switzerland directly tendered the works to a local architect and construction firm, allowed for a rapid and effective reconstruction. The rebuilt paediatric service provides the same number of beds as before the explosion, and a high-quality environment for specialized paediatric healthcare. A new operation theatre reserved for paediatric chirurgical interventions was added. Children will start to be treated in the new service in the next days.
6 million USD for Swiss post-blast response
As part of its response to the blast, Switzerland also supported the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent / Lebanese Red Cross. It further rehabilitated 19 public schools damaged by the explosion. The schools were handed over in March to the Government of Lebanon. They will provide a quality physical environment to more than 7’000 children. In total, Switzerland committed 6 million USD to help Lebanon overcome the blast.
This post-blast response comes in addition to Switzerland’s long-term efforts to support vulnerable groups of all nationalities in Lebanon. Swiss international aid in Lebanon amounts to more than 20 million USD yearly and concentrates in the areas of education, income, protection, migration, water, sanitation, conflict prevention and peace promotion.
The handover ceremony will take place at Beirut Governmental Hospital Quarantine on Wed 28th April 2021 at 3 pm. It will bring together representatives of the hospital administration, the Ministry of Public Health, the United Nations, the Embassy of Switzerland and the media.