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Fuel shortages in Lebanon a grave threat to people's health

WHO urges all parties to secure safe passage of fuel supplies for health facilities

WHO warns that if fuel is not delivered this week, 60% of all hospitals in Lebanon, in addition to other health facilities will simply cease to function. WHO urges all parties to ensure the safe passage of fuel, as a matter of priority.

Due to the damage to infrastructure in the conflict-affected areas of Lebanon, hospitals and other health centres are relying on fuel to run generators. Power is essential to run operating theatres, life-saving equipment including incubators for newborns, refrigeration for vaccines and treatments including insulin. It is also essential for safe water provision and hygiene.

WHO has received reports that fuel supplies are running dangerously low. One hospital in Marjayoun, for example, reports that it will run out of fuel by Wednesday.

"Based on available information, if there is no fuel delivered in the next few days, more than half of the hospitals will not be able to operate by the end of this week and the situation will be much worse next week," warned Dr Ala Alwan, Representative of the WHO Director-General for Health Action in Crises.

Lebanon has 12 000 hospital beds. A reasonable estimate is that, in order to function, each hospital bed needs 80 litres of fuel per week for electric power. Up until now, fuel deliveries have been severely hampered because of the ongoing military operations.

Without fuel, hospitals will be paralyzed. "Fuel is key in any basic infrastructure. The provision of fuel is a matter of life or death in a hospital setting. We urge all parties to ensure safe passage of fuel supplies to hospitals" said Dr Alwan.

Fuel shipments are ready to be sent to Lebanon as soon as the security situation allows. Fuel tanks are also ready to be sent from Beirut to other areas in Lebanon in convoys, provided security is ensured.

For more information contact:

Fadéla Chaib
Communications officer
WHO/Geneva
Telephone: + 41 22 791 32 28
E-mail: chaibf@who.int

Rana Sidani
Information officer
WHO/Geneva
Telephone: + 41 22 791 55 73
E-mail: sidanir@who.int

Chris Black
Communications officer
Beirut
Telephone: + 41 79 472 60 54
E-mail: blackc@who.int

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