Organisations in Lebanon providing Opioid Agonist Treatment ask for international help to maintain the programs. Watch our short video and take action!
OAT, Opioid Agonist Treatment Program was legalized and launched in Lebanon in 2012 within the Harm Reduction Program, after years of advocacy from harm reduction actors in the country.
In light of the compounded and ongoing crises that have hit Lebanon since 2019, today organisations are
facing the risk of yet another health crisis with the imminent shortage of Opioid Agonist Treatment medication. Organizations providing the treatment in Lebanon have learnt of the upcoming shortage of OAT medication which leaves the lives of over 1200 individuals hanging in the balance.
Watch our short video with Elie Aaraj, Executive Director of the Middle East and North Africa
Harm Reduction Association, explaining the problem:
According to the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH), in Lebanon and till date, 2438 patients are registered in the program, however from this number, approximately 1200-1300 patients are active on treatment and receive their medications on a weekly basis from centers accredited by the MOPH.
Substitution drugs require import authorization from the narcotics department and export authorization from France, and the process usually necessitates 45 days following approvals. Since the approval of the Bank of Lebanon was not issued to date, the problem of shortage is definite. As a result, this will expose patients to abrupt discontinuation, withdrawal, overdoses and highly possible high risky behavior and criminality.
The government’s economic situation is the leading cause of this shortage. The procurement process is lengthy as the approval through the central bank and other administrative procedures will take ages. At the same time, the working NGOs are doing their best to get donations as soon as possible in order to cover the period of shortage. If these two Medications used for OAT in Lebanon will be out of stock in three weeks, active beneficiaries are in danger. The only solution that can help at this stage is Medication by donation, as the ground is already prepared for transferring that Medication. The WHO can receive the Medication and the Ministry of Health will give the clearance within hours as promised to get the Medication from customs.
NGOs and experts consider this situation an emergency, because they are not sure, that the programs can be saved after the interruption happens.