Cancer and catastrophic diseases drugs at discounted prices to Palestinians

04 March 2011

4 March 2011
Beirut

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) reached an agreement with the Ministry of Public Health to avail at discounted rate medications for cancer and other catastrophic diseases for Palestine refugees in Lebanon.

Thanks to this agreement, which begins in March 2011, Palestine refugees will be able to make a financial saving that ranges between 3 and 60 per cent depending on the type of medications that they will be purchasing from the third party provider identified by the Ministry of Public Health.

Until now, refugees were buying such medicines from the local market and UNRWA was reimbursing cancer patients only 50 per cent of the cost up to a ceiling of US$ 8,000 per patient per year. Under the new agreement UNRWA will continue to pay its 50 per cent subsidy for cancer drugs, but Palestinian cancer patients will benefit from the discount wholesale rate given by the drug provider that has been identified by the Ministry on their share of the drugs cost. Moreover, the Palestinian cancer patient will not wait to be reimbursed the 50 per cent from UNRWA as he/she will only be paying his/her share at the discounted rate and directly to the representative of the third party provider in his/her area. The patients suffering from other catastrophic diseases will continue to pay the full cost of the medications but will benefit from the discount wholesale rate offered.

The Minister of Health in the caretaking government, Dr Mohammed Jawad Khalifé, said: "This project is a collaborative initiative for the purpose of improving the situation of Palestinian patients with cancer and other catastrophic medical conditions by supplying them with needed medications, since, legislation does not allow the direct access of Palestinian patients to Karantina warehouse and receiving medications for free from the Lebanese Ministry of Health. The Lebanese Ministry of Health is committed to facilitate this programme and we are ready to provide any further support that is needed."

Thanking the Ministry of Health for its continuous support to UNRWA and to Palestine refugees, the Director of UNRWA Affairs Lebanon, Salvatore Lombardo, said: "This agreement will have a positive impact on Palestinian refugee patients who will be making substantial savings when purchasing life-saving medicaments and at no cost to the Ministry’s budget. This is a first step in trying to reduce the health cost burden on Palestinian refugees.”

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Not an official document
For more information please contact UNRWA Public Information Office tel/fax: 01-840468
e-mail: h.samra@unrwa.org

Background Information

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 56 million.

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