In lines, the Lebanese stand in front of Syria’s pharmacies in search of medicine. They go to it to escape the flames of its prices in Lebanon. Some of them are bought without a doctor’s prescription, and some are bought to sell in Lebanon, and it is considered the most requested cancer drug due to its interruption in Lebanon, and the spread of malignant disease among people.
Of course, trade on the Syria line is active in all directions. At a time when the displaced Syrian clung to Lebanon and took it as a safe economic haven, and established his interests and businesses, the Lebanese found himself taking from Syria his opportunity to work, buying everything from cheese, yoghurt and clothes to sell in Lebanon, even resorting to it seeking treatment.
Medical care in Syria is much cheaper, whether cosmetic or public health, with dozens of Lebanese going to Syrian hospitals for treatment.
Hasan’s job has become the daily concern of transporting these people. He used to work as an electrician before he took transportation to Syria as a job opportunity for him. Hassan, who is one of dozens working on the Syria-Lebanon line, carries between 6 and 10 people daily in his “caravan” to perform surgical and hospital operations in the various hospitals in Syria. Operations are no longer confined to plastic surgery, specifically rhinoplasty, but have expanded to include vision correction, spine surgery, kidney stone removal, dental surgery, and more.
Usually, the Lebanese rely on the advice of the taxi driver or the experience of one of those undergoing an operation, and of course, nothing is guaranteed, and according to the testimony of many, a large percentage of operations are not successful, so the patient undergoes the operation and returns to Lebanon, so that the relationship between him and the doctor ends. Therefore, any symptoms or complications are borne by the patient alone. In the streets of Al-Hamidiyah Market in Damascus, you see dozens of Lebanese women who have undergone rhinoplasty, the most famous surgery today, as many women want to reduce or correct their noses.
Marwa, a woman in her fifties, went through this experience, and decided to undergo a plastic surgery for her nose. She came to Jaramana Hospital with her husband and sister, according to her saying, “I decided to change my appearance a little.” My friend underwent a similar operation and succeeded, so I made the decision.
According to her, the cost of rhinoplasty in Lebanon ranges between 1,500 and 3,000 dollars, while it does not exceed 400 dollars in Syria. This difference encouraged a lot to undergo various operations. Her sister, Maryam, underwent an eyelid lift, which finally entered the line of plastic surgeries. It cost only 35 dollars, while the cost in Lebanon reaches 500 dollars and more.--
Not all operations are successful, there are those who encountered failure, and described what is happening as a profitable field of experimentation. Silva, from one of the villages of Tyre, underwent a facelift and a rhinoplasty together. She thought that she would change completely. This is how the doctor deluded her. He charged her only 400 dollars for the two operations, a small fee compared to the total cost in Lebanon. Facelift alone costs $2000, but it is not. Her suffering is not over.
Three months ago, she underwent the operation, and since that time, the pain has not left her. The scars of the wound are still visible on her face, except for the disfigurement in her ears. She gnaws at her pain and describes what happened as a mistake of her life. She tried to see the doctor, but he does not answer her calls. “He leaves us and walks.” We turned into a profitable trap.
Beauty is not the only destination for the Lebanese. Youssef, who underwent a vision correction operation, says: “It is a risk, especially since the doctor’s identity is unknown to you, and what you have done is an adventure. I may lose my sight if the correction process fails.” The majority of patients admit that they are living a dangerous adventure, as nothing is guaranteed, and many face difficulties.
For more than six months, Ayad has been trying to treat a dental implant defect. He went to a doctor in Hamra, Syria. He thought he was smart. His friend had an implant operation and it was successful. “However, I ate batter. My gums became infected and I suffer from excruciating pain. We are walking blind.”
Perhaps the search for another destination for medicine is logical, after medicine in Lebanon has become for the rich and medicine for the affluent only. As for the poor and the poor, their destination has become Syria in search of medicine, even if it is “not guaranteed”, but it is ten times cheaper and perhaps more than Lebanon.
Religious-medical visits to Syria are active. Thousands of dollars are paid weekly and monthly in medicine, medicine and trade, with the country’s high prices still cheaper than Lebanon. But not everything is so good. The Lebanese have turned into a field for “you and your luck” experiences in any process you undergo.