The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has stressed that although its services continued “uninterrupted” during 2018, the “health and dignity” of the refugees “remain at risk”.
In its annual health report released on Tuesday, UNRWA said that, “Despite facing unprecedented financial challenges in 2018, the provision of primary health care and the facilitation of hospital services… continued uninterrupted.” The Agency puts this down to the “remarkable commitment of health workers and the ongoing Health Reform Programme, as well as the generous contributions from host and donor governments, and in particular, its close partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO).”
However, UNRWA points out, these achievements and the continued health and well-being of the Palestine refugee community remain imperilled due to the agency’s continuing financial crisis. It is worth noting that apart from a small core of funding from the main UN budget, the Agency depends entirely on voluntary donations from UN member states. The US was the largest donor until last year, when Donald Trump cut Washington’s funding to UNRWA completely.
“For nearly 70 years,” the report adds, “UNRWA has been offering comprehensive primary health care services to registered Palestine refugees, focusing on the protection, promotion and preservation of their health through all stages of life through the ‘life-cycle’ approach.” Last year, UNRWA attended to nearly 23,000 patients every day through its network of 144 health centres in the five fields of operation: the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
According to the report, “Core health services, such as strong maternal and child health indicators, a near 100 per cent vaccination coverage, early registration for preventive care and the percentage of pregnant women attending at least four antenatal case visits, were maintained in 2018.”
In addition, “During 2018, screening and outreach activities for non-communicable diseases were strengthened.”