In a changing environment of increasing health care needs – particularly with the increase of chronic non-communicable diseases, rising health care costs and limited financial resources – UNRWA has worked continuously to find and adopt new strategies to response effectively to the emergent needs of the Palestine refugee population.
As part of these efforts, in 2011, UNRWA launched the Family Health Team (FHT) approach, a new globally adopted, person-centred approach devoted to improving the delivery of quality primary health care for Palestine refugees. Through FHT, health care is now delivered by multidisciplinary medical teams who provide comprehensive and continuous care to the patients and families registered with them, as opposed to providing care to treat specific ailments without taking into consideration the comprehensive health status or the family history of an individual. The approach also included the introduction of ‘e-Health’, an electronic patient medical record system, which has significantly supported and streamlined health care service delivery.
This month, UNRWA marked an important milestone in the FHT implementation process, with the approach now operational in all of the 117 health centres serving Palestine refugees in Lebanon, Gaza, the West Bank and Jordan. In Syria, exceptional efforts were made to roll out FHT to six health centres out of a total of 26 under the prevailing security situation. These efforts have had a noticeable impact on the quality of care provided to Palestine refugees, resulting in more efficient services, shorter waiting time for patients, increased patient consultation times with health staff and improved health care facilities.
The modernization of the UNRWA health programme would not have been possible without the generous contributions of the government of the United States of America towards this effort, amounting to US$ 3.97 million between 2011 and 2015, as well as additional support from Denmark, Switzerland, Japan, the Saudi Fund for Development and Brazil.