UNHCR’s public health approach is based on the primary health care (PHC) strategy. In Lebanon, the government provides services through the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Social Affairs with nationals paying part of the cost. In addition, PHC services are provided by private practitioners, local and international NGOs and other charities. With the objective of providing health care services to refugees at similar levels to the host community, UNHCR promotes refugee access by supporting a network of PHC centres across Lebanon. Currently, UNHCR covers costs for the vast majority of refugees presenting at partner facilities, however UNHCR is unable to meet full coverage needs.
For PHC, refugees contribute a nominal fee for services as do the Lebanese nationals. Referral care is however, very expensive in Lebanon. The costs covered by UNHCR vary by estimated cost of care, vulnerability status, and type of care (e.g. emergency life-saving, obstetric, medical and surgical). For estimated costs of USD <1500, 75% of costs are covered and the refugees cover the remaining 25%. If estimated costs are USD ≥1500 or refugees present outside the pre-approved hospital network, partner agencies are required to consult with UNHCR. Emergency UNHCR approval is strictly for immediate lifesaving or limb-saving cases. UNHCR refers all non-emergency cases to an Exceptional Care Committee that is responsible for authorisation of coverage. For the extremely vulnerable refugees, UNHCR covers 100%of the costs.