Category Archives: Health

Shameful “Anal Exams” Still Taking Place in Lebanon

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HRW

Human Rights Watch published an 82-pages long report on the forced anal examinations on men and transgender women accused of consensual same-sex conduct in which cases were reported in Lebanon in the past five years. The report was based on interviews with 32 men and transgender women who underwent forced anal examinations in Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Lebanon, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, and Zambia.

It’s quite shameful to see Lebanon being featured in this report as these “tests of shame” were banned in Lebanon back in 2012 and the Justice minister at the time, Shakib Qortbawi, issued a statement calling for an end to anal examinations on men accused of homosexual conduct. Even the head of the Lebanese Order of Physicians Dr. Sharaf Abu Sharaf issued a directive back then calling for an end of the procedure:

It is scientifically established that this procedure is not even qualified as an experimental procedure. It does not provide the needed result and is considered a grave violation against the people who undergo it, and it is done without their prior consent. It is a humiliating practice that violates their dignity, and it is torture according to the definition of CAT [Convention against Torture].

The reason why anal exams are still being used in Lebanon is due to some doctors, and prosecutors, who are not aware or not complying with the circulars that were issued in 2012. Of course, there are also police members who are still requesting such tests as recently as 2015 as reported by Dr. Sami Kawas, a forensic medicine specialist in Beirut.

The only way to end these tests is to inflict a severe punishment on those who are still conducting it. A warning is not enough as these tests violate article 30 of the Lebanese law on medical ethics, which prohibits doctors from engaging in harmful practices, as well as international standards against torture including the Convention Against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Lebanon has ratified.

Any doctor who performs an anal examination should be kicked out of the syndicate and forbidden to work again. Any police officer who requests such tests should be jailed.

Check out the full report [here].

shame anal

Help 56 Year Old Rozine Moughalian Raise Funds For Her Liver Transplant

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casemedrozine Rozline’s daughter Catherine Moughalian

This is a truly painful story. I wish I could do more than donate a bit of money and spread the message but I can’t. I think someone should try to reach out to Minister Bou Faour to handle this case and treat Rozine Moughalian for free before it’s too late.

Rozine’s daughter is trying to raise funds for her mom’s liver transplant before the end of month otherwise she won’t make it. Rozine lives in Bourj Hammoud and developed subacute liver failure in the past 3 months, which doctors were unable to diagnose and suspect possible drug or toxin exposure. The condition developed quite fast, and Rozine went from working three jobs two months ago to being hospitalized with a terminal condition today. She is currently in need of a liver transplant without delay (within the next two weeks).

You can donate [here].

Here’s the full story:

It is an extremely difficult process to find donors and secure funds in such a short period of time. So, due to bureaucratic procedures and time constraints, she can’t receive a liver transplant in Lebanon and it was recommended by doctors that she be transferred abroad for proper assessment and treatment. We are currently aiming for transferring her to Iran or India, these being the cheapest options. France was also an option earlier but it costs double what the surgery would cost in Iran or India.

Mom does not have the money for such a surgery, and she doesn’t have access to free quality healthcare. We need to raise at least 200,000 USD by the end of the month to be able to fund her surgery or it will be too late.

I find it absurd that my mom won’t get to live out the month because we can’t afford the money or a donor. She has the right to access free medical care, she has the right to get appointments with doctors without wasta, and the right to be admitted into the hospital at the expense of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) without having to wait a day in the ER while we make the “right calls to the right people.”

In a country where our basic rights are not available, or only available to a select few, sticking together is more of a basic need than duty. If you feel you can donate, any amount will bring us closer to the goal of keeping my mom alive.

I understand if you can’t donate, but please share this message with people who you think can help, either financially or by pointing us to people who have had a similar experience and can help with procedures and logistics.

I urge you to gather your resources as I am gathering mine. Thank you for reading this.

In solidarity,
Catherine Moughalian
If you have means of helping other than donations please contact me:
catherine.moughalian@gmail.com 961 3 098 817

[YouTube]

Full Hospitalization Coverage For Lebanese Above 64

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hos Photo Credits: Al-Akhbar

Lebanon’s Public Health Minister Wael Abu Faour announced that he will implement soon a new plan to provide full medical coverage after retirement in an attempt to “bridge the gap between the state and citizens” and to make sure that no Lebanese is deprived of health care.

The first thing that comes to mind is how much will this plan cost, but the minister is saying the state will actually reduce its cost in other areas by implementing it. It’s one of those “too good to be true” plans that we never thought would be implemented in Lebanon but Abu Faour is quite confident about it.

Just to give you an idea about the hospitalization coverage plans in Lebanon, people who retire at age 64 are no longer allowed to apply to the NSSF (as far as I know) and are either covered by their family or have to get insured somewhere else.

The details of Abu Faour’s 100% medical coverage plan should be announced today at the parliament. I think it’s a good initiative and I hope it will be properly implemented.

It’s Summer Season: Authorities Move Landfills To The Beach

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lf1

Where’s the best place to set up a new landfill? Right on the beach of course. The Costabrava landfill was approved by the Lebanese government 3-4 months ago and residents of the area are literally suffocating from the smells. In fact, anyone who’s driving from Beirut towards Khalde will notice the horrible smells on the way. At some point, it’s even worse than the Karantina landfill.

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Residents of the area are already complaining and things will only get worse.

Here’s a report done back in April by GreenArea:
[YouTube]

And another more recent one by AJ+:

PS: Someone should tell AJ+ the first 2 pictures used are old and not from Costa Brava.

#Lebanon Ranked Second on Numbeo’s 2016 Pollution Index

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Numbeo’s Pollution Index is an estimation of the overall pollution in the city. “The biggest weight is given to air pollution, than to water pollution/accessibility, two main pollution factors. Small weight is given to other pollution types. The rankings are based on surveys from visitors of this website. Questions for this surveys are similar to many similar scientific and government surveys”.

Lebanon ranked second after Egypt. Jordan was the next Arab country in the 14th spot, followed by Bahrain (#16), Qatar (#18), Saudi Arabia (#30) and UAE (#52). Numbeo is a crowd-sourced global database of reported consumer prices, perceived crime rates, quality of health care, other statistics.

Pollution

A Report On The Beach Water Quality Along Lebanon’s Coast

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Tri Tripoli Beaches – Photo Credits: Souad Sbaiti

This is a follow-up on a post I wrote back in April. A sea water monitoring study was conducted by the National Center for Marine Sciences (I had no clue we had such a thing), and this is a summary of the results:

beaches (2)

As you can see, most of the beaches that are frequented by Lebanese during the summer are good. Most of the beaches North of Lebanon are clean and Tyr’s beaches are the best. The Jiye & Damour beaches are ok despite the garbage that was being dumped there underwater and Saida’s beach is good after the garbage mountain got removed.

Enjoy the summer!

They Are Building a Hospital Near Horsh Beirut!

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hospital via Nahnoo

Horsh Beirut was closed to the public for more than 20 years by the Beirut Municipality for fear of vandalism and poor maintenance, and due to the lack of resources to protect the park. As soon as it reopened all week long to the public, a construction site popped up right next to it. Apparently, a new hospital is being built there.

Beirut Governor confirmed the news and said he will hold talks with the NGO Nahnoo regarding that matter.

There’s nothing really to talk about here! Let us leave the damn park alone and expand green areas around it. That’s the only rational thing to do. Instead of building new hospitals, let the municipality invest in renovating and improving the present ones.

My Brother, Dr. Zahi Ibrahim Mitri, Awarded The 2016 Young Investigator Award

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conquer

Since I keep sharing news about Lebanese shining abroad, I thought it’s about time I brag about my own brother, Dr. Zahi Mitri who was awarded The 2016 Young Investigator Award by the Conquer Cancer Foundation in the United States. “The Young Investigator Award (YIA) provides funding to promising investigators to encourage and promote quality research in clinical oncology”.

My younger brother has always been the family genius. He was always at the top of his class in school, he was always in the top 5 in his biology years at AUB, he aced all his Medicine tests, ranked top 5 in all his Med years, graduated with honors, won the Pen Rose Award at the American University of Beirut, matched with his first choice (Emory University Hospital) where he completed his residency, then moved to MD Anderson, widely regarded as one of the best cancer hospitals in the United States and the World where he completed his fellowship.

conquer1

What I love about my brother is that he makes all these achievements look so easy. He used to go out all the time, party, drink, exercise and then come back home and read 500 pages to prepare for his next exam. Even when abroad, he always has time for family and used to look after all of us. He’s also very modest and doesn’t brag about what he does. Aside from being a doctor, he’s also a loving husband and a proud father.

My brother has always been into research since his AUB medicine years and has chosen a difficult field (oncology) that could help improve the lives of millions of people around the world. The CCF Young Investigator Award is aimed to help promising young investigators and some of the brightest minds in clinical and translational cancer research and I’m proud, even though not surprised, to see my brother on that list.

We are all proud of him. My dad was very proud of him and he’d tell everyone about his achievements 🙂

The Conquer Cancer Foundation (CCF) was founded by the foremost cancer doctors of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) to seek dramatic advances in the prevention, treatment and cures of all types of cancer. CCF works to conquer this disease by funding breakthrough cancer research and sharing cutting-edge knowledge with patients and physicians worldwide, by improving quality of and access to care, and by enhancing quality of life for all who are touched by cancer.

Sunday Morning Escape

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Bike1

You might have visited every city in the country, but if you have not experienced Lebanon by bike then you have definitely been missing out. Three years ago, my friends got me a bike, they were certain that it was going to end up in the garage with layers of dust covering it. To everyone’s surprise, from that day, I have been biking every single weekend.

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Sunday for me, has drastically changed from a lazy day (±200 calories) to the most active day of the week (+2000 calories). On an average, we cover around 60-70 Km per ride, taking anywhere between 3-5 hours, depending on the number of stops we do. Our rides are not competitive, we are not in it to win a championship, but rather escape, be active, enjoy the outdoors and Live Love Lebanon.

When is the best time to go biking?
Bike0

My journey starts every Sunday at 6am. I wake up, grab a light breakfast (usually a small sandwich), pack my bike and gear and head out for my ritual ride. The ride usually starts at 8am and ends by 1pm, just in time for Sunday lunch. Before you start, find yourself a biking partner, it’s always more fun and a lot safer when you have someone with you. Every week we set out to discover a new location in the country.

What’s beautiful about bike rides, is that you get to see the places you usually miss out on by car. You can go into the narrow streets, stop and admire anything you find interesting along the way, enjoy the scenery, discover new places and take lots of amazing pictures.

What type of biker are you?

There are plenty of locations to enjoy different types of rides. City rides, sea side rides, mountain rides, uphill rides, and my personal favorites are the offroad rides.

Beginner:
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If you are a beginner, haven’t been on a bike for a long time or panic around cars, I would advise you to stick to relatively closed circuits, where cars aren’t swarming around you, like the Dbayeh Marina, Raouche, Beirut Waterfront or Amchit seaside boulevards.

Average:
Bike2

If you are an ok biker like most people, then you can venture a bit and hit the streets, the best place to ride is the on the old sea side road Jbeil – Amchit – Batroun – Anfeh. It’s relatively a straight path with few slopes, not many cars use that road on a Sunday morning, the scenery is breathtaking, and there are many places where you can stop and relax along the way. You can stop at the beach and have a swim, fuel up with a lemonade in the old Batroun souks or even get a glass of beer and chill at Colonel Beer.

Advanced:
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If you are an advanced biker, you can burn few more more calories by riding uphill in the Metn area, starting in Baabdat and moving up to Ain El Sefsaf or even shoot for longer rides in the Bekaa valey from Taanayel to Qaraoun.

Thrill Seeker:

Thrill seekers can go into remote rocky areas in Wata El Joz, Keserwan and enjoy an offroad experience. Of course you need a mountain bike and some extra protection gear to endure the ride.

How much does it cost?
Biking_20140202_0017-2

If you don’t have a bike, you can always purchase one, you don’t need an expensive bike. You can get a mountain bike that works both for city rides and offroad for $500-700. If you don’t want to invest in a bike just yet, there are plenty of bike rentals in Beirut, Gemmayze, Jbeil, Amchit and Batroun. You can rent a bike for as low as 7,000 L.L.

All in All:
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In Lebanon, we have the perfect landscape and weather for outdoor activities. Unfortunately, our roads are in terrible conditions, there are no bike lanes and car drivers have no respect for bikers on the streets. This is the main reason why I bike very early on Sundays, to minimize as much as possible the risks of getting hit by a car and avoid heavy traffic.

With the upcoming municipal elections, electoral programs should focus more on making the cities open and fit for healthier outdoor life, encourage people to go out, be active and use less and less their cars. Of course we can always dream of having a bicycle highway, like the one Germany just opened. It’s a 62 miles bicycle road that connects 10 western cities including Duisburg, Bochum, and Hamm, as well as four universities.