Since 2019, Lebanon has witnessed a steady increase in the net immigration of its general population. While in 2018 there was a net decrease of 195 %
compared to 2017 (_ 4.493/1000 population), there was a steady increase of 89 % (_ 8.508/1000 population), 47 % (_ 12.523/1000 population) and a projected 32 % (_ 16.538/1000 population) in 2019, 2020 and 2021 respectively.1 There are many reasons why Lebanese have immigrated in the past, be it religious, sectarian or to escape from the repeated civil wars, yet the majority left for economic reasons.1 This is especially true with the October 2019 financial crisis which was compounded by the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the frequent lockdowns and the near absence of governmental financial support to needy families. Over a very short period, our financial sector collapsed, and many Lebanese, including many physicians, saw their lifetime savings lost as their bank accounts were blocked. This had a major impact on the economy, and the health sector was not immune to it. The COVID-19 pandemic compounded the stress. The health system crumbled under the stress created by the high volume of hospitalized patients, those admitted to intensive care units, and the sudden scarcity and increase in the cost of equipment and medications. The frequent lockdowns that led to the closures of some specialty clinics (head and neck, ophthalmology and dentistry to name a few), the frequent and repeated cessation of all except emergency surgical procedures compounded the devaluation of the local currency to reduce the physician’s income to a fraction of what it used to be. Certain specialties, such as plastic surgery were particularly vulnerable. In addition, the pandemic took a heavy toll on many physicians, both physically and emotionally, especially those dealing directy with COVID-19 patients, including but not limited to ICU, infectious and pulmonary specialists. 

 

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