BEIRUT: Health Minister Wael Abu Faour announced an agreement Monday, to settle supplier debts at the Rafik Hariri University Hospital after drug and equipment shortages threatened to shut down the facility.
“If the debt is not paid, the absence of important materials and equipment puts the hospital at risk of closure,” said the minister.
Abu Faour held a meeting with the hospital's chairman, Faisal Chatila, and drug and medical equipment suppliers, to evaluate the deficit that had cost providers fifty-three billion Lebanese pounds.
Following the meeting, Abu Faour announced an agreement whereby the hospital will pay the advance it had received from the Lebanese government to cover 15% of the owed debt.
Abu Faour pointed out that "the agreement will apply only to companies that will supply materials, goods and medicines for three months, otherwise the ministry and the hospital will dissolve the agreement.”
The minister expressed hope “that this agreement will help in the implementation of the recovery plan.”
In response to the hospital employees' strike last week over a 3 month delay in receiving wages, Abu Faour asserted that "the rights of employees will be fulfilled, and the Ministry of Finance will transfer the money today as promised.”
Abu Faour condemned measures taken during the protest, saying that “no one has the right to take the hospital and patients hostage, just because some people enjoy appearing on the media.”
“We want to relieve some of this obsession with the media, otherwise I would have to take action,” he said.
In April, the government approved a plan that discussed the challenges faced by the hospital, including a massive shortage of medical supplies and equipment.
The minister stressed that the complete reformation of the hospital is not temporary process, but is instead a gradual integrated plan that requires coordination between the hospital and the ministry for it to be performed successfully.