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,” the minister said.
Abu Faour held a meeting with the hospital’s chairman, Faisal Shatila, and drug and medical equipment suppliers, to evaluate the deficit that had cost providers LL53 billion ($35.3 million).
Following the meeting, Abu Faour announced an agreement whereby the hospital would pay the advance it had received from the Lebanese government to cover 15 percent of the owed debt.
Abu Faour pointed out that “the agreement will apply only to companies that will supply materials, goods and medicines for [a period of at least] three months, otherwise the ministry and the hospital will dissolve the agreement.”
He 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 three-month delay in receiving wages, Abu Faour said “the rights of employees will be fulfilled, and the Finance Ministry will transfer the money today as promised.”
Abu Faour condemned measures taken during the protest, saying “no one has the right to take the hospital and its patients hostage just because some people enjoy appearing in the media.”
“We want to relieve some of this obsession with the media, otherwise I will have to take action,” he said.
Angered by the minister’s remarks, employees at the hospital declared Tuesday as a “Day of Rage,” and pledged to issue a statement in response to the comments from Abu Faour.
In April, the government approved a plan that addressed the challenges faced by the hospital, including a massive shortage in medical supplies and equipment.