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Lebanon: Illness must not rid life of its value

30 August 2017

MSF team provides home-based care to around 170 elderly women and men with chronic diseases and mobility problems living inside the Burj El-Barajneh refugee camp. Most don’t have a caretaker and the absence of medical follow-up is affecting their health. Photo by: Bruno De Cock

MSF also offers mental health support (individual and group sessions) and health education services to a group of 30 people in a home for the elderly in the camp. Photo by: MSF

MSF nurse Amal is helping Amira Al-Hassiri, 80. She has been bedridden for seven years and suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure. “They always visit me and measure my diabetes level and blood pressure. God bless them,” says Amira. Photo by: Bruno De Cock

“They always visit me and measure my diabetes level and blood pressure. God bless them,” says Amira. Photo by: Bruno De Cock

“When they visit me I feel better. They visit me two or three times a week. I tell them that I’m out of my medication and they get it for me,” says Amina Banat. Photo by: Bruno De Cock

MSF team provides home-based care which brings not only medical benefits for the patients, but often also allows a brief moment of human warmth in otherwise very lonely lives.

“When we visit a patient and she welcomes us with a smile on her face, and a twinkle in her eyes, this is a success for me. It is very important that the patient feels happiness, security, and trust with us.” Rached, 32, is an MSF nurse. He has been helping Amina. Photo by: Bruno De Cock

In the Burj el-Barajneh Palestinian camp to the south of Beirut, an MSF team provides home-based care to almost 170 elderly and bed-ridden patients living with chronic diseases.

The service brings not only medical benefits for the patients, but often also allows a brief moment of human warmth in otherwise very lonely lives.

The home-based chronic diseases care programme targets patients who have difficulty with movement which prevents them from seeking important regular medical check-ups.

MSF launched the programme in Burj el-Barajneh in May 2016. It currently provides this service for  almost 170 camp residents.

Through the home-based chronic diseases care programme in Burj el-Barajneh, MSF aims to ensure access to medical services for the neediest groups, especially those with chronic diseases. Diabetes, hypertension and heart disease are among the leading causes of death in low and middle-income countries such as Lebanon.

They are even more dangerous with age and in the absence of necessary healthcare.

The programme is based on periodic visits carried out by the medical team to the homes of elderly patients to follow-up and treat chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease.

Regular follow-ups carried out by the medical team contribute to a remarkable improvement in the health of patients. In addition to the necessary medical examinations, the patient’s medical team provides them with guidance on how to take care of themselves, how to take the medication and insulin injections, and the diet to be followed to control their illnesses, as well as information on other health-related topics.

For people who have lost their loved ones, lived in displacement camps and experienced unemployment, disease, destitution and loneliness, for those who have been left alone in life, the medical staff have become like family. As Amna Banat, 84, says, smiling, “When they come to see me, I feel cured.”

Find out more about MSF's work in Lebanon.