ROCHESTER — Majd Faraj, a second-year medical student at the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine (OUWB), is leading a project to bring much needed medical supplies to Lebanon.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the Lebanese healthcare infrastructure this year. The problem has been compounded by an already precarious Lebanese economy, rising civil unrest and inequality, making COVID-19 related care an uncertain prospect for a lot of the country’s population.
Faraj, a Lebanese American, told The Arab American News that such conditions can quickly develop into a healthcare disaster in Lebanon. He said his passion for the project comes from his concern for global healthcare.
“I’ve only been in the U.S. for four and half years,” Faraj said. “One of the main reasons I chose medicine is because of my concern for global health and strengthening a connection between U.S. healthcare and international healthcare, whether in Lebanon or elsewhere.”
Faraj said COVID-19 has shown the world its own connectivity. He has set up a GoFundMe for the project and was surprised to see the outpouring of support came not just from Lebanese expats.
Faraj learned of Lebanon’s dire healthcare situation from his father, Dr. Toufic Faraj, head of the board of governors at Bint Jbeil Governmental Hospital, following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the region.
“I learned from him that Lebanon has COVID-19 testing in almost every governmental institution in the country, but the issue is that whenever someone tests positive they are sent to the same public hospital in Beirut,” Faraj said.
Faraj’s plan is to ship medical supplies to Rafik Hariri Hospital so that people who are otherwise not able to afford care at profit-based hospitals in Lebanon can find treatment.
At the center of the project led by Faraj is the not-for-profit medical facility Rafik Hariri University Hospital (RHUH) in Beirut, which sees many of the country’s COVID-19 patients. A large, modern hospital, RHUH has met the challenge head-on. But as a trademark of the virus in countries across the planet, this crucial medical facility is on the brink of being overwhelmed.
Faraj’s plan is to ship medical supplies to the hospital so that people who are otherwise not able to afford care at profit-based hospitals in Lebanon can find treatment. The medical supplies will be shipped through a partnership with World Medical Relief in Southfield.
Lebanon is heavily dependent on outside supplies of medical equipment, which often has to be purchased using U.S. dollars, which is now becoming harder to come across in the country. Lebanon also recently re-opened its main airport to many international travelers, increasing the likelihood of another wave of infections.
“Lebanon has a complex healthcare system,” Faraj said. “For example, the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) is a large medical center, and is one of the best, but is practically impossible to get into for low-income patients.
“Rafik Hariri is a therefore a haven for the uninsured in Lebanon, for Syrian and Palestinian refugees, for migrant domestic workers, for those who would never be able to go to AUBMC.”
Knowing this gap in equitable care exists for so many Lebanese, Faraj contacted the head of board of governors at RHUH, Dr. Firass Abiad, who informed Faraj of the dire need of resources at his hospital. The hospital will use the medical supplies Faraj and his project send over to see it through a very costly pandemic.
Faraj said his initiative is trying to circumvent the likelihood of that hospital reaching a point of paralysis. He knew from prior volunteering opportunities with World Medical Relief that the organization would be able to use its shipping channels to get those supplies where they were needed.
Faraj has set the the GoFundMe donation goal at $15,000 to cover the purchase of supplies, COVID-19 related or otherwise, and hire a shipping container to deliver them. World Medical Relief will facilitate this process. No part of the donation will go to RHUH in the form of cash. The initiative has already raised almost $4,000.
Go to the following link to donate: https://gf.me/u/yfcah8