FILE PHOTO Lebanon's caretaker health minister Hamad Hasan, gestures as he speaks at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon December 28, 2020 REUTERS
The health ministry said Sunday it will investigate the death of a baby girl whose family said she was not able to access proper hospital treatment amid Lebanon's severe medical shortages.
Jouri al-Sayyid, 10 months old, died on Saturday in the village of Mazboud, southeast of Beirut, three days into a high fever that caused lung inflammation.
Her uncle Aymen al-Sayyid told AFP she had died because of a "lack of proper care in hospital and lack of medicines".
"Drugs weren't available at the hospital, so her father went to the pharmacy to buy some, but it was closed," Sayyid added.
"We're living in a country where the hospitals don't have medicine, and the pharmacies are closed."
Many of Lebanon's pharmacies closed their doors on Friday in a protest strike over the lack of medicines caused by the country's economic crisis.
Mazboud hospital, where the girl died, denied any wrongdoing.
It said in a statement that Jouri had received "full, appropriate treatment including all necessary medicines", and she had died shortly after being removed from the hospital to be treated elsewhere.
Dr. Kamal Mourad told AFP she had been taken out of the facility without hospital medics being consulted.
The girl's death sparked fury on social media in Lebanon, which has spiralled into an economic meltdown involving supercharged inflation and shortages of basic goods including food, fuel and essential drugs.
Health Minister Hamad Hassan vowed in a statement to open an investigation into the circumstances of the baby's death.
A widely-shared video showed the father carrying the girl in his arms, wrapped in a sheet, and taking to task Lebanon's underfire political class blamed for its economic collapse and exodus of capital.
"Who should I complain to? The crocodiles and sharks that left the country?" he angrily asks in the video.
An association of importers of medicines has warned for weeks that the country could soon exhaust its stocks of hundreds of basic medicines for chronic diseases.
Lebanon's cash-strapped authorities have gradually cut subsidies on basic goods including medicines.
But delays in the tendering process for drug imports has caused shortages of many products including basic painkillers and baby formula.