Widespread controversy in Lebanon after reports of irregularities in the coronavirus vaccination plan and the World Bank warns and threatens to stop funding the purchase of vaccines for Lebanon. What the details of these irregularities? How do the Lebanese authorities deal with it?
Two million doses. Lebanon receives first coronavirus vaccine with World Bank support
The World Bank agreed to reallocate 34 million USD to support vaccination efforts in Lebanon as it faces an increase in coronavirus cases, the International Finance Corporation said in a statement.
“This is the first World Bank-funded operation to fund the purchase of covid-19 vaccines,” added that the funding will provide vaccines to more than two million people. Vaccines were expected to arrive in Lebanon by February 2021.
“In addition to the human losses, the epidemic has increased the economic crisis in the wake of the Beirut port explosion last August, “the statement added.
Priority target groups are high-risk health workers, people over 65, and those aged 55-64 with chronic diseases, the World Bank said. Adding that “by prioritizing these groups, the country’s vaccination program has the potential to reduce the consequences of the epidemic.”
Lebanon’s Ministry of Public Health said that the total number of deaths in Lebanon since the onset of the epidemic was 2,151. There have also been 4594 new coronavirus infections. This brings the total number of registered cases in the country to 269,241.
Because of cronyism, threat to halt funding for Lebanon’s vaccines
The World Bank on Tuesday threatened of suspending funding for the vaccination campaign against the new coronavirus in Lebanon, in its second week, after finding that some MPs are getting their doses in Parliament, without waiting for their turn.
Lebanon received the first batch of Pfizer – Biontic vaccine, which included 28,000 doses, the last month with the help of the World Bank. It would monitor the process to ensure that vaccines reach those who need them most as said.
The bank warned of cronyism in a country where decades of government waste and corruption have led to a severe financial collapse.
After local media reported that some members of Parliament would get the covid-19 vaccine on Tuesday, World Bank Regional Director, Saroj Kumar Jha, said it would breach the agreed national plan for fair vaccination.
“If the breach is confirmed, the World Bank may suspend funding for vaccines and support for the covid-19 response across Lebanon,” he wrote on Twitter, calling everyone, I mean everyone, regardless of your position, to record your names and wait your turn”.
How did the parliament member respond to the accusations?
Current and retired MPs over the age of 75, as well as some administrative staff, are receiving vaccination in the Parliament Hall, said one member of parliament. They are over 75 years old and they are registered.
Sharaf Abu Sharaf, the Lebanese doctor’s captain, called for more transparency and said there were many irregularities without specifying a number.
It was reported that people who were not prioritized or registered received vaccinations, while some medical workers and the elderly continued to wait.
Hospitals, damaged by the financial crisis in Lebanon and the Beirut port explosion, last year faced one of the highest rates of coronavirus infection in the region since January, and the number of deaths in Lebanon raised to more than 4,300
The Lebanon Health System Strengthening Project
In March 2020, the World Bank announced the reallocation of funds from the Lebanon Health System Strengthening Project to support the efforts of the Ministry of Public Health in facing the coronavirus pandemic by equipping public hospitals and increasing their capacity to carry out laboratory tests and treat suspected HIV cases.
Since then, accelerated procurement through local and international suppliers in accordance with established World Bank procedures and in coordination with United Nations agencies has assisted in the procurement of much-needed equipment in 45 hospitals. This equipment included: personal protective equipment, 60 respirators, 10 PCR devices, and coronavirus test kits. In addition, 50 intensive care units were equipped with beds and related equipment, including biomarkers, fluid injection pumps, water absorption pumps, infusion pumps, cardioverter devices, and electrocardiograph devices. Additional equipment is being procured to increase the capacity and number of intensive care unit beds to 180 beds and provide them with the necessary equipment.