Fighting Cholera in Lebanon: icddr,b's Expertise in Action

Thursday, 9 February 2023 - Lebanon has been experiencing a major cholera outbreak, the first in nearly 30 years. This outbreak came at a time when the country was already struggling with an economic crisis that had weakened its public health system. With fuel shortages and currency devaluations, hospitals were struggling to respond to patients. To help control the spread of cholera, the World Health Organization (WHO) reached out to icddr,b, an organization with expertise in managing diarrhoea diseases in Bangladesh and globally.

Dr Shoeb Bin Islam an Assistant Scientist at the Nutrition and Clinical Service Division of icddr,b was nominated to go to Lebanon on an emergency basis to help contain the outbreak. The main goal of Dr Islam's mission was to provide training to healthcare professionals on the best practices for managing cholera cases and updating treatment protocols. He also worked with Lebanon's Ministry of Public Health and hospital directors to develop plans to increase their ability to respond to the increasing transmission of cholera.

Dr Islam conducted a workshop with ICU consultants, senior doctors, and nursing supervisors from different hospitals. During the workshop, the participants discussed the clinical challenges faced when treating cholera patients and learned from Dr. Islam's experiences at icddr,b.

He also visited five government hospitals to provide hands-on training to doctors and nurses and met with hospital directors and public health officials to discuss the status and needs of treating diarrhoea in their hospitals. These are Bouar Public Hospital, Batroun Hospital, Tripoli Hospital, Minieh Governmental Hospital and its diarrhea treatment corner and Halba (Abdallah El Rassi) Governmental Hospital.

Dr Islam also visited community sites where the outbreak first started in October 2022 and suggested community awareness programs. They evaluated the waste management systems at three hospitals and discussed with the infection control teams about improving the management of cholera patients' waste.

Dr Islam's deployment in Lebanon was a great opportunity for him to serve in a major humanitarian crisis. icddr,b's long expertise in managing diarrhoea diseases allowed them to support the efforts in controlling the spread of cholera in Lebanon. Throughout its history, icddr,b has supported many countries across the world to tackle diarrhoea diseases and continues to do so.