Mr. Nasib Nasr

General Director of Hôtel-Dieu de France

“The hospital network will expand this year and in the years to come.”

The aftermath of the Beirut Port explosion in August 2020, coupled with the nation’s ongoing financial crisis, has left Lebanon on the brink of collapse. Moreover, many sectors were impacted by this situation, especially Lebanon’s health sector, which heavily depends on public coverage. In the hope of shedding additional light on this subject, ‘Hospitals’ magazine interviewed Mr. Nasib Nasr, General Director of Hôtel-Dieu de France, one of the most prestigious hospitals in the country, administered by Saint Joseph University of Beirut.

What are the main concerns in regard to the healthcare sector in Lebanon today?

One of the primary obstacles today is the lack of public health coverage in Lebanon, the country’s current economic situation, as well as the scarcity of some drugs and other medical supplies.

With the huge decline in access to healthcare services in Lebanon, what role do Hôtel-Dieu de France and the USJ-HDF hospital network play in helping people get the needed services?

One of our main roles is maintaining some of our previous, extremely high standards for healthcare, which is difficult. It is no simple task. However, I believe that the danger zone has been crossed. In order to get through this crucial period, we have worked hard to save three other medium hospitals, which are now administered by Hôtel-Dieu. 

Today, we have the largest network of hospitals and hospital beds in Lebanon that meet quality standards, which is difficult to have given what is happening in Lebanon.

What are the positive and negative sides of creating a hospital network in Lebanon?

The positive side is that we are creating a synergy between hospitals, and in doing so, we can optimize a variety of things, including services, third-party payments, supplies, etc. The drawback is that we are in charge of three additional hospitals, all of which have a very poor financial history, and we must invest in them to help them get back to where they were before the crisis. We thus have a plan, and the first phase of it consists of helping them and investing in them. I believe we will see results in the next upcoming months.

What is your vision regarding Hôtel-Dieu de France and its hospital network? 

First and foremost, the hospital network, which is quite dynamic, will expand both this year and in the years to come. We are currently developing a number of projects, which include hospitals and many other ideas. 

Moreover, our country requires additional hospital beds with administration similar to that of Hôtel-Dieu because other hospitals are in such poor conditions. Second, the social responsibility of Saint-Joseph University of Beirut and Hôtel-Dieu de France will be marked by a very critical period where we will support people and make it easier for them to have access to healthcare services.

Is the healthcare sector still in decline today, or is it getting better?

It is still declining, perhaps more slowly than before, and it will continue to decline until there is new governance in the country as well as a different political and economic situation, because they are closely related to what is happening outside the hospital.

Indeed, Lebanon depends on public coverage, as 40% to 50% of the Lebanese population is covered by the army, the ISF, and the public social security system. The latter, however, is gradually disappearing.

Having been ranked 23rd  worldwide for healthcare efficiency in 2019, can Lebanon still be considered a country where healthcare services are top-tier today?

The country’s situation is dire. I don’t think Lebanon has the same rank as before internationally. 

However, our hospital and our hospital network are ranked, if not first, second in the country and in the region in terms of quality healthcare.

Lebanon is known for its top healthcare services, with people worldwide coming there to receive top-notch care and treatments. Did the healthcare sector witness a decline in people coming to Lebanon to access such services because of the economic crisis?

Yes, and it’s mostly because of a political issue with all of the surrounding countries, not just because of the economic crisis. Nowadays, no one from the Gulf countries or the surrounding areas travels to Lebanon for tourism. The same applies to medical care. Today, people from the Gulf countries do not travel to Lebanon for medical treatment, as they have better, higher quality medical care. They are building their hospitals, thus replacing Lebanon as a medical care hub, and in doing so, they are taking a lot of doctors and nurses from our country. So, yes, it is difficult to maintain something that is not maintainable.

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