On Wednesday 10th June 2020, Forward Thinking, in partnership with the Order of Malta, convened a Doctor-to-Doctor Dialogue with healthcare professionals and experts from Italy, Germany and Lebanon. This meeting is part of an ongoing process that seeks to allow doctors to share experience in clinical terms and review the differences and similarities in their response to Covid-19. The aim is to analyse the best practices and extrapolate the main points that could be harnessed in local and national responses to improve our collective resilence to both this virus and future pandemics.

Lebanon did not experience a catastrophic outbreak, as witnessed elsewhere. While structural factors (such as Lebanon’s young population) contributed to this, a desicive factor may have been the speed of the Lebanese respose. Lebanon implemented a complete lockdown across the country, with the message heightened through media outlets, just 7-10 days after the first case of Covid-19 was announced. And even before the first case was annouced, Lebanon formed an emergency committee to plan for the fighting the virus and begin stockpiling PPE.  Factoring in that the ICU capacity was limited, these prompt and decisive actions enabled the health system to prepare itself.

Lebanon’s biggest challenge is arguably not the virus but the economic crisis gripping the country. This makes lockdowns and advice for people to remain at home difficult to implement, as many ordinary Lebanese have to work in order to secure their daily subsistence. This may highlight the need in future for greater socio-economic support to vulnerable households to enable them to self-isolate as necessary.