International Health Partners, International Medical Corps and Anera Work Together to Help People in Lebanon Access Needed Medicines During Covid-19

Three PQMD members have joined forces in a novel collaboration to help people in Lebanon access needed medicines during Covid-19.

Last year, PQMD launched a mentorship programme to connect new members to more established ones and help them navigate PQMD, and access guidance for donation programmes. Marcia Roeder from International Medical Corps was asked to mentor Nisreen Khalaf from Anera, who was participating in her first in-person meeting with all members. The two organisations both work in Lebanon, and had met at the Sharing Best Practice Workshop hosted by PQMD member International Health Partners last May. With much in common, discussions began on how to work together.

Lebanon supports a population of some 1.7 million refugees, and Covid-19 has exacerbated existing strains on its healthcare system. Anera, whose relief work in Lebanon stretches back four decades, runs health and other services in many of the country’s Palestinian and Syrian refugee camps. International Medical Corps supports a network of healthcare clinics and dispensaries and operates mobile medical units and emergency response.

Anera has developed its own system to import medicines, but the complexities of doing this have until now prevented International Medical Corps from importing medicines for its own programmes. Seeing opportunity, Marcia and Nisreen discussed sharing the costs of a shipment of donated medicines. Anera’s experienced team would manage shipping, clearing and distribution and, by sharing costs, both could free funds to use elsewhere.

International Health Partners (IHP) provided the missing piece. It had longstanding partnerships with both organisations and could facilitate a shipment by sourcing and handling medicines and supplies. As the Covid-19 crisis escalated and lockdowns made logistics more difficult, the three put their plans into action, with field teams making calls to explore overlaps and gaps. Marcia had no doubts about the quality of Anera’s operations, thanks to its existing partnership with IHP and membership in PQMD. “In my mind, it was already vetted because I know the integrity of partnerships IHP develops,” she says. “The way we approach programming is aligned, which made it easy to connect teams on the ground.”

With the two NGOs agreeing it was “a no-brainer” to share costs of logistics and transport, IHP compiled a shipment of 42,288 treatments worth more than $180,000, comprising medicines donated by PQMD members including Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. These included antibiotics, treatments for parasitic worms, and medicines for diabetes and heart disease. The shipment arrived in May. “Everything went so smoothly, and IHP made it seamless—all the i’s were dotted and t’s crossed,” says Marcia.

With Lebanon in a tough patch even before Covid-19 hit, these donations are vital, says Nisreen. “By working together for the same goal, we can cover more needs than by working alone, and we are definitely meeting those needs.” Marcia adds: “Our teams in Lebanon worked really well together and we’re continuing to talk about how to collaborate programmatically and expand on this. This really is collaboration at its best.” The three organisations are now putting together a shipment for the refugee camps of Jordan.