Mental hospital nearly out of medicine

Hospitals in Lebanon are suffering severe shortages in medicinal supplies. (Linda Dadhah/IRIN)

ZEFTA - A mental hospital in south Lebanon is just days away from running out of the medicine used to treat its 250 schizophrenic patients, its director said on Thursday.

“We have very little Epanutin left,” said Adela Dajani Labban, director of the private Al Fanar Mental Hospital in Zefta, a village 60km south of Beirut. Epanutin is an anti-convulsion drug that can be used to treat schizophrenia.

Staff nurse Hossam Mustafa said doctors had been reducing dosages to patients in an attempt to conserve supplies. “If we do not get more medicine soon we will be faced with a very difficult situation. The patients will become very aggressive.”

Although the hospital’s medical supplies could last 20 more days, Labban expressed concern that she had not been contacted by any of the international aid agencies or local NGOs who have been coordinating medical aid supplies to towns and villages left isolated by the Israeli bombardment of “terrorist infrastructure” targets in south Lebanon.

The conflict began on 12 July after Hezbollah, a Shi’ite political and militia group based in south Lebanon, captured two Israeli soldiers.

The hospital’s usual staff of 20 has been reduced to six, as many nurses have left their homes in the area. Some patients have been asked to help with the running of the hospital.

After windows in the hospital were shattered by the nearby explosion of a missile, staff painted a red cross and crescent on the roof to alert Israeli aircraft to the status of the building. Staff members said most patients were afraid but coping.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) coordinator in Tyre has been alerted to the situation by IRIN.

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