On Thursday May 14 2020 as Amel and its partners began conducting PCR testing in informal refugee settlements in Ersal, Kamel Mohanna, President of Amel Association International (Amel), reiterated the importance of maintaining and enhancing ongoing efforts in order to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 cases inside informal settlements, which if it were to occur would have catastrophic consequences, which we must avoided. These Tests where the first conducted on refugee population living in camps in Lebanon.
It is in this spirit that Amel launched it’s COVID-19 response plan a few weeks ago, taking into account the humanitarian, social, economic and health dimensions of the current Lebanese situation. The plan includes support for the COVID-19 call center, set up under the supervision of the Ministry of Public Health and in cooperation with the UNHCR, as well as the mobilization of 9 mobile clinics and a medical team trained to respond to the emergency. In addition, Amel has begun conducting free PCR tests.
These tests have been executed in coordination with the Mérieux Foundation and the Rodolphe Mérieux laboratories which are themselves under the umbrella of the Faculty of Pharmacy of the Saint Joseph University (USJ). The test where first conducted at Amel’s Center for Mother and Child Care in Douris, and later at Amels Health Center in Bourj El Barajneh (Dr. Ghazi Baydoun health and development center).
On the Fourteenth of May, this effort to test people for the coronavirus was brought to Ersal where people from 14 different informal settlements underwent PCR testing. Members of Amel’s health team, Amel’s health coordinator Mohammed Al Zayed, Dr. Josette Najjar Representative of the Mérieux Foundation and Dr Marianne Abi Fadel, the Dean of the Pharmacy Faculty of USJ were all present and collaborated in performing the tests. This effort to implement PCR testing in to the refugee camps themselves is not only unique but essential. The living standards and the proximity in which people live in these camps is a true recipe for disaster where the virus to start spreading in them.
Over the next few weeks, Amel and its partners will continue to implement its COVID-19 response place, thus awareness campaigns, testing and the dissemination of information related to prevention will all be carried out. Amel’s 25 centers located in remote or marginalised area of Lebanon along with its 9 medical mobile clinics will be an essential cluster on the frontline of this fight against the virus.