On 1 April, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) began over two weeks’ of events to honour World Health Day, marked by the international community every 7 April since 1950. In Syria, more than 600 Palestine refugees displaced by the ongoing conflict attended 27 health-education sessions in schools, health centres and collective shelters, seeking to help them protect their health from the numerous risks that the conflict has only exacerbated.
The campaign concluded on 16 April at the collective shelter in the UNRWA Haifa School in Mazzeh, Damascus, with a drawing competition. UNRWA students in Damascus were invited to respond artistically to the theme, ‘Hand in Hand to Control Vector-Borne Diseases’, and a hundred responses illustrated the children’s interpretations of this important topic. At Haifa School, the exhibit of their work showed flies, bugs, mosquitoes, nets made of recycled materials and a commercially available mosquito net. Students also performed a play and raps about healthy behaviour.
The five winners of the competition – Sara Meri’, Muayad Sa’diyeh and Mu’men Kashman of Haifa School, ‘Alaa Nassar of Nahla Zeidan School and Noura Sha’bani of Samoui’ School – received certificates in recognition of their brilliant work.
Congratulating the staff and students for their enthusiasm in marking the day, Michael Kingsley-Nyinah, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Syria, said: “I express my deep gratitude to the Education and Health Programmes and to the wonderful staff of Haifa School. You have organized a magnificent event which showcased the beauty and strength of the Palestinian people. At the same time, you have performed an important duty in informing about prevention of diseases and the promotion of health for all.”
Health sessions over the two weeks had focused on the prevention of vector-borne diseases, highlighting for refugees and displaced persons the importance of access to safe drinking water and sanitation systems and the prevention of insect bites in preventing infection. They also raised awareness about the threat posed by such diseases and stimulated displaced refugee families and the community to take action to protect themselves.