The World Health Organization is urging donors to be sure the medicines they send to Lebanon are ones that are needed and are not due to expire soon. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva, the WHO is warning that poor quality or incorrect medicines may cause more harm than good.
The World Health Organization says many of the donations of medicines for Lebanon are exactly what is needed. But, WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib says many of the drugs sent are no good, because they are expired, partially used or of uncertain quality. Sorting through all these medicines, she says, wastes valuable resources.
"This will have a burden on the warehouses of the country, which is already suffering from other problems," she said. "This will cost money, energy, resources to sort out these medicines, to destroy them, etc. So, it is very important to help, but to help in a rational way by knowing really the needs."
WHO says medicines and supplies for surgical interventions and chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart and kidney problems are in short supply. It says some of these can be purchased locally, but international donations also are needed to restock supplies.
WHO says donors should buy medicines from sources with reliable quality control that comply with international standards for packaging, labeling and other quality requirements. It advises potential donors to contact the national health authorities for updates on the latest needs and to consult WHO's Web site, which has a list of needed medicines and medical supplies.
Chaib also says Lebanon does not need any more field hospitals.
"Field hospitals are really very expensive," she said. "And, this money used to bring or to build these field hospitals could be more useful to help Lebanon, for example to repair any equipment or to provide urgently needed supplies, to pay some additional costs. So, we should know the needs and to provide it."
The World Health Organization is coordinating the health response in Lebanon. It has set up early warning systems in 60 places around the country to detect disease and respond quickly.