24 April 2013
The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Margret Chan visited the Shu’fat refugee camp in East Jerusalem on Tuesday, accompanied by Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency Operations (UNRWA) in the West Bank Felipe Sanchez and Chief of UNRWA’s health programme in the West Bank Umaya Khammash.
This visit came in the framework of the activities undertaken under UNRWA’s diabetes and high blood pressure campaign “Life Sweeter with Less Sugar.” The girls’ school was among the first in the West Bank to initiate the Healthy Canteen initiative in 2012. In partnership with the Juzoor Foundation for Health and Social Development and the French Social Development Fund, UNRWA launched this campaign to improve children’s perceptions of food, thereby improving their health education and eating habits.
“This programme aims to change the way children think about food. The WHO sets global standards of health and wellness. UNRWA works hard to implement these standards and has succeeded here”, said Dr. Khammash.
The cornerstone of the Healthy Canteen Initiative is the production of homemade lunch products for sale at school. The food items are made at the neighboring Shu’fat Camp Women’s Centre. The initiative not only improves the student’s food consumption but also empowers women in financial difficulty through its employment opportunities.
“The visit of Director- General Chan is a great and appreciated show of support for the UNRWA health programs achievements”, Dr Khammash added.
WHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. The WHO is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, and setting norms and standards. As part of the visit Director-General Chan also made a stop at the Women’s Centre to see first-hand the fresh food preparation.
“Delicious,” she commented after tasting a freshly baked Palestinian pastry.
UNRWA is planning on opening more healthy canteens in its schools around the region. To learn more about UNRWA’s diabetes and high blood pressure campaign go here: www.unrwa.org/worldhealthday