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ANERA: Serving Ein El Helweh Camp in Lebanon

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SIDON (LEBANON), August 18, 2010 (WAFA)- Ein El Helweh is the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon but is squeezed into an area of roughly 1.5 square kilometers. Living conditions for more than 70,000 refugees living there are unhealthy and often dangerous, American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) reported.

Human Call Hospital sits near the end of one of the crowded streets that run through the camp in Saida, Lebanon. Hospital Director Dr. Amer El Sammak explains that Human Call has the only clinic open 24/7 to treat emergencies, making its services critical for the camp's residents.

The clinic treats an average of 50 to 60 patients a day, mostly trauma and emergencies as well as chronic illnesses like heart disease, arthritis and bronchitis. But, he adds, the hospital only has eight beds.

The hospital now is expanding its facilities to add room for 10 more beds, a larger ER facility and another operating room.

Through the In-Kind Program, ANERA provides about 30% of all the medicines and medical supplies the hospital receives, allowing them to use their own budget to purchase additional supplies.

Human Call Clinic also runs a newly renovated pharmacy, supplied with ANERA's donated medicines. Pharmacist Amer El Dib stresses the quality control he maintains in the pharmacy as part of the campaign against the irrational use of medicines, which he cites is a major problem across Lebanon.

Human Call Hospital has also set up a team of 28 trained First Aid volunteers who help with patients unable to get to the clinic. Hospital staffer Firas Abu Alloul, who oversees the team, says one of the challenges for Human Call is getting patients to the clinic through crowded alleyways that cannot accommodate an ambulance.

Abu Alloul is active in ANERA's Creative Health Campaign and supervises CHC events and festivals in the camp that are aimed at educating children and their families about the health risks of smoking and the benefits of rational use of medicines.

'The festivals we organize also offer some relief for families here who are living in overcrowded conditions,' says Abu Alloul. 'And, we hope our campaign aginst the irrational use of medicines is starting to have an impact.'

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