Interview results with municipalities
This study aimed to document the range of preparedness/reactivity of municipalities as COVID-19 swept through Lebanon. A qualitative case study was implemented to explore municipal response to control the epidemic, using in-depth semi-structured interviews with twenty-seven stakeholders from nine municipalities across all governorates in Lebanon. Our results showed that the response to the pandemic differed significantly in volume and nature among different municipalities across regions, with rural areas clearly disadvantaged in terms of adequacy and completeness of response. Barriers consistently mentioned by most municipalities included economic collapse and poverty, shortage in resources, lack of support from the central government, stigma, lack of awareness, underreporting, flaws in the MOPH surveillance system, impeded accessibility to healthcare services, limited number, and weak role of municipal police, increased mental illnesses, and political patronage, favoritism, and interference. On the other hand, increased donations, community engagement, social support and empathy, sufficient human resources, the effective role of healthcare systems, and good governance were identified as key facilitators. Thus, It is crucial meanwhile that the central government strengthens the administrative and financial resources of municipalities in preparing and rapidly deploying the expected optimal response.