In 2021, the City of Beirut, Lebanon, was selected as a grantee of the Global Cities Fund for Migrants and Refugees (GCF), the MMC’s instrument to channel international funding directly to cities to implement inclusive projects of their own design.
With support from the GCF, the City of Beirut established its first Municipal Mobile Health Clinic, providing free and accessible healthcare to residents of marginalized communities, regardless of origin and migration status. After assisting over 3,500 Lebanese, Syrian, Palestinian, and Iraqi residents of Beirut during the project’s timeframe, the clinic is now a permanent fixture of the city’s healthcare system.
With a population of approximately 5.5 million, Lebanon hosts more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees, 490,000 Palestinian refugees, and 400,000 migrant workers. Hundreds of thousands of these refugees and migrants live in the country’s capital and largest city, Beirut.
Beirut has been severely affected by compounding crises in recent years: an economic crisis as of 2019, a devastating explosion at its port in 2020, and the massive impacts of Covid-19. These challenges have disproportionately impacted Beirut’s marginalized neighborhoods, where many refugees and migrants live alongside impoverished Lebanese populations. These communities face barriers to accessible healthcare, including limited financial resources, rising healthcare costs, and a lack of information about available health services.
The Municipality of Beirut partnered with UN-Habitat Lebanon to establish the city’s first Municipal Mobile Health Clinic and respond to the dire need for accessible healthcare during the pandemic. Despite deteriorating local conditions such as fuel and electricity shortages and repeated lockdowns during the initial months of the pandemic, the Municipality of Beirut successfully procured equipment and outfitted the clinic, also hiring essential staff.
Still in operation, the clinic improves access to healthcare for Beirut’s most marginalized populations by providing free and accessible healthcare services to all, regardless of migration status. Going where it is needed most, the clinic focuses on neighborhoods with a high percentage of refugees, migrants, and marginalized Lebanese residents, including working-class neighborhoods impacted by the 2020 explosion.
The clinic’s services include free and non-discriminatory Covid-19 testing and vaccinations, psychosocial support, referrals to other health services, and medical kits including medicine and protective equipment. While the clinic initially focused on treatment for and preventing transmission of Covid-19, its services have since expanded to include blood drives for children, primary healthcare screenings, and health awareness events.
Jamal Itani, Former Mayor of Beirut, Lebanon
With the support of the Global Cities Fund, we’ve been able to provide critical healthcare services – regardless of ability to pay or migration status to those who would otherwise left behind
Beirut’s Municipal Mobile Health Clinic has provided more than 3,500 Beirutis—half of them foreign-born—with safe, non-discriminatory access to essential healthcare who would not have otherwise received care. In doing so, the city advanced an inclusive Covid-19 response, alleviated health disparities, and safeguarded access to affordable public healthcare for all, regardless of migration status.
Beirut’s GCF project also strengthened existing collaborations between the Municipality of Beirut and UN-Habitat Lebanon, Red Cross Lebanon, Doctors without Borders, and the Ministry of Public Health, among other partners, to build greater capacity to address future public health crises in the city. As a result, Beirut not only invested in the well-being of its residents but also increased public trust and confidence in the municipality’s ability to address pressing urban challenges.
The clinic is now a permanent fixture of the city’s healthcare system.
Lama, Community Member
I fell and didn’t have what was needed to treat myself or access a hospital. I see the Mobile Health Clinic as a great solution for such challenges.
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