Health system resilience: Lebanon and the Syrian refugee crisis

Health system resilience: Lebanon and the Syrian refugee crisis

Between 2011 and 2013, the Lebanese population increased by 30% due to the influx of Syrian refugees. While a sudden increase of such magnitude represents a shock to the health system, threatening the continuity of service delivery and destabilising governance, it also offers a unique opportunity to study resilience of a health system amidst ongoing crisis.

We conceptualised resilience as the capacity of a health system to absorb internal or external shocks (for example prevent or contain disease outbreaks and maintain functional health institutions) while sustaining achievements. We explored factors contributing to the resilience of the Lebanese health system, including networking with stakeholders, diversification of the health system, adequate infrastructure and health human resources, a comprehensive communicable disease response and the integration of the refugees within the health system.

In studying the case of Lebanon we used input-process-output-outcome approach to assess the resilience of the Lebanese health system. This approach provided us with a holistic view of the health system, as it captured not only the sustained and improved outcomes, but also the inputs and processes leading to them. Our study indicates that the Lebanese health system was resilient as its institutions sustained their performance during the crisis and even improved.

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