Building a health care system resilient to shocks
Lebanon has invested a significant effort into health system reforms and development over the past two decades, resulting in increased financial sustainability for the health system, large gains in population coverage, and improved quality of health care services.
Summary of UHC Journey
Lebanon has invested a significant effort into health system reform and development over the last two decades, resulting in increased financial sustainability for the health system, large gains in population coverage, and improved quality of health care services. Since reforms began in the 1990s, Lebanon has developed a stable public-private partnership health system based on collaborative governance enabling the country to reduce out-of-pocket payments. To ensure universal access to healthcare, the MOPH developed a wide network of PHC centers providing quality services that are accepted as an alternative for the private outpatient care. The MOPH established contractual relationships with NGOs, the main providers of PHC services, which allow services to be streamlined and funds to be shifted towards prevention and promotion. MOPH successfully decreased out of pocket expenditures from 60% to 37% of total health expenditures by 2012 while re-orienting its strategy towards PHC.
Despite these achievements, Lebanon still struggles with political instability and financing challenges which put additional strains on the health system especially with the recent influx of over a million Syrian refugees making Lebanon one of the highest refugee populations per capita.
To reduce the social, economic, and health impacts of the Syrian crisis on poor Lebanese while maintaining health system achievements, Lebanon launched the Emergency Primary Healthcare Restoration Project in Collaboration with the World Bank in 2015. The project aims at strengthening and improving access of impoverished Lebanese to primary health care centers. Through this project, 150,000 Lebanese with limited income receive Essential Healthcare Packages consisting of primary healthcare services in 75 primary health care centers around the country.
Progressing further towards UHC, Lebanon is now embarking on the “Lebanon Health Resilience Project” (LHRP) which will further increase access to quality health care services for poor Lebanese and displaced Syrians. The project essentially relies on scaling up the scope of primary health care services and the capacity of the UHC program in addition to providing healthcare services in public hospitals. This is in line with Lebanon’s strategic plan for 2016-2020, which focuses on updating governance, maintaining emergency response programs and boosting public health.
The country’s continued progress in increasing access to quality health care underscores the resiliency of the health system and Lebanon’s dedication to achieving UHC. Because of these reforms, the utilization of health services has improved in tandem with health outcomes.
Country Core Group Representatives
Head, Social Health Services & PHC Department, Ministry of Public Health, Lebanon
CMIO, Professor & Chair Family Medicine