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  1. Rana Kurdi,
  2. Mohamad Mikati
  1. Department of Pediatrics and Adult and Pediatric Epilepsy Program, American University of Beirut Medical Center, Beirut, Lebanon
  1. Correspondence to:
 Mohamad Mikati MD, Director Adult and Pediatric Epilepsy Program, Professor and Chairman, Department of Pediatrics, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon; mamikati{at}

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Lebanon is a small country (10,452 sq km) located in the Middle East on the coast of the Eastern Mediterranean. Its population was estimated to be 3.6 million in 2000. Since the end of the civil war in 1990, the economy has steadily recovered thanks to the banking system, tourism, and agricultural exports, along with international aid. In addition, the country’s physical and financial infrastructure has been rebuilt in the capital Beirut, the centre for cultural, economic, financial, and medical activities and services.

Life expectancy is 71 years for men and 74 for women. Infant mortality is 28 per 1000 live births (compared with 21–56 in Arab countries, 5–48 in Europe, and 78–192 in sub-Saharan Africa). Ten to 11% of GDP is spent on health, comparable to that of developed countries (France 9.8%, Germany 10.4%). Although high level medical services are available, these are not accessible to the whole population. Health costs are very high and insurance coverage is often inadequate. The Ministry of Health budget is spent mostly on people not covered by any insurance and, due to financial restrictions, 57% of Lebanese families are left with some untreated health problems.1 There are 2.8 hospital beds per 1000 population, and three MR scanners per one million people.1

To become a medical student, the applicant has to pass a special entrance exam in one of the four universities that have a medical school. Lebanese students regularly achieve very high scores when they sit for international level entrance exams such as the MCAT (Medical College Admission …

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