On December 28, 2022, Ambassador Shea accompanied caretaker Minister of Public Health Abiad on a visit to Halba Governmental Hospital and a well in Bebnine, in Akkar Governorate. The Ambassador announced a $1.3 million donation to the UNICEF flash appeal to respond to the cholera outbreak in Lebanon.
Ambassador Shea’s Remarks as Presented:
صباح الخير, good morning.
Excellency Minister Abiad, UNICEF Representative Edouard Beigbeder, I know we also have WHO, UNDP, UNHCR representatives with us today. All of you, distinguished guests, and I count among the most distinguished – all of our health care workers. You are the heroes. I’m delighted to be here today in Akkar to highlight your exceptional efforts in responding to the cholera outbreak في لبنان. I wish to commend His Excellency Minister Abiad for his leadership in coordinating the cholera response efforts and addressing the ongoing impact of Lebanon’s multiple crises on the nation’s health care system. We thank you for your collaborative approach to working to stem this outbreak in particular and to saving lives.
Your Excellency, our UNICEF representative Edouard Beigbeder, thank you to you and the entire UNICEF team, not only for arranging today’s mission, but for the work that all of you do every day helping children and families in situations of extreme vulnerability. The United States counts UNICEF among its most important partners, not just here in Lebanon, but around the world. And on behalf of the United States, I would like to affirm our steadfast commitment to the people of Lebanon and the many vulnerable individuals who are experiencing severe socio-economic hardship. We applaud the efforts of all those who are working every day to respond and make a positive impact in their lives.
I talked to some people today who were very actively involved in the cholera response. I heard that there were no admissions this morning in the hospital for cholera. I saw empty beds. This is a good thing, الحمدلله. And I heard that it wasn’t so long ago that every bed was full. So to all of the health care workers, I again say thank you for your heroic efforts. Since the start of the outbreak, the United States has stood side by side with our partners here in Lebanon. And we applaud your versatility in responding to the multiple crises that you have faced. In October, for example, UNICEF was able to swiftly allocate existing United States government funding to support treatment of 5,000 cases. This is through oral rehydration treatments, but also the treatment kits that allowed them to respond swiftly and comprehensively. And just last week, at UNICEF’s request, the United States sent in epidemiologists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct a three day cholera response training course in Beirut. But we can do more, and we will do more.
Today, I am pleased to announce additional funding in the amount of $1.3 million in humanitarian assistance in response to UNICEF’s flash appeal to respond to the cholera outbreak in Lebanon. This funding will go to support refugees and the communities that host them and other people in need. These funds will improve access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene, through support to municipal water establishments and wastewater treatment plants. The support will also bolster the capacity of health care providers to provide improved early detection.
We heard a lot this morning about how detection and prevention are really the keys to this case. We’re working with case management, testing and laboratory services, surveillance and reporting networks on the infection and of course, prevention and distribution of supplies, collection and disposal also of infectious waste. This new funding will also help to engage and educate local communities on how to most effectively prevent and respond to a cholera outbreak.
As we enter the New Year and confront both ongoing challenges and, no doubt, new challenges, the United States looks forward to continuing our coordination with the government of Lebanon, other donor countries, our trusted partners in the United Nations and in civil society, the hospital network and our health care providers –our heroes– and most importantly, the recipients of this humanitarian assistance.
Because, as always, we are in this together.
Thank you. شكراً.