‘The level of challenge here cannot be underestimated’ UK Med CEO talks to Radio 4’s Today Programme about the crises in Beirut.

David Wightwick on Radio 4's Today Programme

August 10 2020

UK-Med CEO David Wightwick talks to Radio 4’s Today Programme from Beirut about the aftermath of the explosion at Beirut Port, Lebanon on Tuesday August 6th. He spoke about the needs assessment which members from the UK Emergency Medical Team are undertaking, deployed by the UK Government with representatives from UK-Med and Humanity & Inclusion.

David tells BBC Radio 4 Presenter, Kataya Adler about the explosion’s devastating impact on the health systems and services and how initial findings are indicating the biggest challenge will be urgently re-establishing emergency services whilst also dealing with the existing COVID-19 pandemic.  ‘This latest challenge for Lebanon is overlaid over the top of a pandemic’.

He talks about how many casualties have been treated very rapidly, but how medical records haven’t always been maintained. There is a significant need for rehabilitation and physiotherapy after surgery.

He also talks of how 85% of Beirut’s health care system is delivered by private health care providers which will add additional coordination challenges.

The team of six clinical and humanitarian health experts are making a rapid assessment of the situation on the ground as part of the UK Government’s response to the crises.

‘The level of crises upon crises is extraordinary, there was already an underlying challenge in Lebanon, compounded by 1.5 million refugees from Syria, a pandemic and a devastating explosion which has taken out a large part of major economic infrastructure and of course displaced a large number of people.  It’s quite astounding on the ground here to see the resilience of the Lebanese people.  People bonded here together after the immediate aftermath of the explosion, the speed of which people were treated for major injuries all over the country was quite amazing to hear about.    The level of challenge here cannot be underestimated.’

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