At least three main hospitals and half of the clinics in the Lebanese capital are not functioning following damage from last week’s devastating port explosion that killed more than 200 people and wounded thousands.
Reporting from Beirut, Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith on Friday said shockwaves from the August 4 blast completely destroyed parts of St George’s Hospital, including its maternity ward.
Omar Abou-Mrad, whose seven-year-old son Yuri was receiving chemotherapy at St George’s, said he woke up to see his son “screaming his heart out”.
“Yuri, are you ok?… I am here, don’t be afraid. Papi is here,” Abou-Mrad could be heard telling Yuri in a video he shot from his mobile phone right after the explosion.
“Can we get out? I am scared,” said Yuri.
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Abou-Mrad told Al Jazeera Yuri still had his tubes in him when the explosion took place. He said there were a dozen more children with their families at the time of the explosion.
“Unfortunately, one of the parents died, two parents are in a very critical condition in the ICU and all this was seen by the patients,” Peter Noun, head of Paediatric Oncology, told Al Jazeera.
“You can imagine how tough it is for the patients. They have cancer, they are afraid from the explosion and from the noise, and they see their parents all dying and in a very critical case.”
About 110 children are currently undergoing cancer treatment in the hospital, Noun said.
With his unit destroyed, Noun said he had been driving across Lebanon, trying to find space for the patients in other hospitals.
Abou-Mrad said his son was accepted in another hospital to continue his chemotherapy.
“Three Beirut hospitals are out of action and around 25 other health facilities are not functional according to the World Health Organization (WHO),” said Smith.
“There’s also been a surge in coronavirus – another risk for child cancer patients with compromised immunity.”
Hospitals in Lebanon – which is facing an unprecedented economic crisis – were already struggling before the explosion.
The financial collapse and a shortage of dollars had left them without cash to buy foreign medicines or pay their staff.