Lebanon currently hosts approximately 1.5 million Syrian refugees, the highest number of refugees per capita in the world. Many have little or no access to affordable healthcare and are living in some of the most remote and isolated areas of the Bekaa valley. To provide direct access, affordability and quality patient care, the idea of a mobile primary healthcare service was developed and Endless Medical Advantage was born, fondly referred to as EMA by the local communities and international friends who have been a key area of support since the initiative was established. EMA was founded at the end of 2018 by Dr Feras Alghadban, a Syrian refugee who had been volunteering with other health projects for the Syrian community and Dr Hadia Aslam, a British GP who had been consulting on health needs for a local NGO; the project was established primarily to provide an affordable solution to primary healthcare for vulnerable, displaced and disadvantaged communities.
Endless Medical Advantage is a refugee-led organisation providing sustainable healthcare services and humanitarian relief support to the refugee populations and vulnerable communities across the Bekaa Valley. This initiative has been a key source of healthcare for this community and for many EMA is the only affordable and easily accessible health service available for people who have experienced displacement, hardship and loss.
EMA aims to be a key provider of comprehensive support for this community, utilizing an innovative approach to empower skilled health care providers from within the community to address the needs of their surrounding community. EMA aims to provide relief of sickness and preserve good health for disadvantaged individuals who have limited access to healthcare services; furthermore, EMA is committed to providing aid and relief to those living in poverty and affected by the challenging economic conditions of Lebanon.
EMA operates in Central and West Bekaa, home to approximately 350,000-400,000 Syrian refugees mostly living canvas tented camps as well many in basic shared housing. The camps where Endless Medical Advantage operates were initially identified by how isolated and remote they were geographically in relation to access of governmental clinics and hospitals. There are large numbers of people living in remote areas, often along poor roads with little to no access to public transport. With data and evidence from local municipalities, we were able to identify those individuals and families most in need of health, aid and relief services. With the support of a local Lebanese healthcare clinic and NGO (who act as our non profit fiscal sponsor in Lebanon), we are informed of the rural and remote areas wherein lies the most need.
The mobile clinic was developed as there is no other service of its kind in the Bekaa valley bringing primary health services to the actual communities, giving the organisation a unique position to meet several health concerns for a large number of beneficiaries in remote areas. The health services in a mobile setting removes several barriers to access, most importantly the affordability of assessment and treatment by qualified and experienced medical professionals who are from the refugee community itself; the idea was to actively seek out and involve community residents as community ownership is a fundamental component for sustainable humanitarian activities. This also allows for stronger communication, trust and rapport with the beneficiaries that ultimately contribute to better health outcomes for all.
Over the last two years EMA has expanded its services from initially covering 7 camps and now working in over 50 camps across 3 geographical areas, providing direct access to the organisation's services for approximately 75,000 beneficiaries from both the refugee and host communities. As one of the only health providers in a mobile setting, we are able to benefit a much larger number of people living in wider geographical areas across the Bekaa Valley. EMA's activities are focused on primary healthcare, a recently developed dental healthcare service, rent relief and livelihood support, financial assistance for life saving medical treatments, food security and assistance in addition to public health education and awareness by our local health practitioners and international medical volunteers.