Hezbollah has used Lebanon’s health budget to disproportionately fund its own medical institutions, according to a government document issued by the Health Ministry currently run by pro-Hezbollah minister Hamad Hasan.
The official document showed the health budget allocations for both public and private hospitals, which the caretaker Lebanese government signed before its resignation last August only four days following the Beirut port explosion. It showed that the ministry raised the budgets of Hezbollah-sponsored medical institutions.
In recent governments, Hezbollah began demanding more ministerial portfolios that have access to state services and funding such as the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Industry.
This disproportionate budget allocation by the Ministry of Health has raised the concerns of Lebanese citizens on Hezbollah’s use of ministries to fund and support its own parallel economy.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Health was also criticized for trying to replace medicines produced in Europe with alternatives produced in Iran.
The document seen by Al Arabiya English showed that al-Rassoul al-Azam Hospital, which was not affected by the Beirut port explosion and is affiliated with Hezbollah, received 14.7 billion Lebanese pounds ($9.7 million at the country’s official pegged rate), an increase of 5.5 billion Lebanese pounds ($3.6 million) compared to the prior year.
The same budget allocations were not increased for prominent hospitals such as the American University, Roum, and Hotel Dieu despite their recent challenges following the impact of the Beirut blast in August and being the major hospitals to receive and treat the number of dead and injured.
The total allocation for all three prominent hospitals did not exceed 16.4 billion pounds ($10.8 million), compared to 14.7 billion Lebanese pounds ($9.7 million) for one hospital sponsored by Hezbollah, the document showed.
A source from the health ministry said, "the scandal of distributing financial ceilings is not limited to al-Rassoul al-Azam Hospital, which is classified as a first category.”
“Rather, it includes raising the budget allocations of Hezbollah hospitals, institutions, and clinics run by its health authority, including newly established institutions, with an overall increase of 14 billion Lebanese pounds ($9.2 million),” the source added, wishing not to be named.
Al Arabiya English reached out to Dr. Hadi Mourad, who said that the budget's massive addition only targeted Hezbollah medical institutions across the country.
"Moreover, the ministry added 15 new medical institutions that were not previously funded by the ministry for the first time. Those additions did not target Shia predominantly areas, for example, Baalbek public hospital received minimal aid, despite its importance in the region. Similarly, other institutions sponsored by the Amal movement did not receive any bonuses from the ministry. These bonuses clearly targeted only Hezbollah sponsored institutions," Mourad said.
"Karantina hospital, which was destroyed completely by the Beirut Port explosion, received only 75 million Lebanese Liras," he added.
Mourad said that the prior health minister, Ghassan Hasbani, established a precise formula for those bonuses based on the number of beds in each hospital and its significance in the country's medical sector. The government at the time rejected Hasbani’s formula “because they wanted to keep going with the corrupt sectarian quota divisions to which the political class is used to,” according to Mourad.