Clinic to address high diabetes rate among Palestine refugees

05 March 2012

29 February 2012
Bethlehem, West Bank

With almost 15 per cent of Palestine refugees in the West Bank living with diabetes, UNRWA has launched its first health clinic in the area dedicated to this condition and other chronic non-communicable illnesses. Officially opened yesterday in Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem, the Shams Centre is a joint initiative of the Agency’s health programme, popular camp committees, and two hospitals in Jerusalem: August Victoria and St. John.

“I am honoured to be here to inaugurate this ‘centre of excellence’, which is a unique feature in all UNRWA areas of operation and a very good example of successful partnerships between the community, health care providers, and UNRWA,” said UNRWA’s Felipe Sanchez at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “UNRWA realises the importance of preventing and controlling such diseases.”

Shams (“sun” in Arabic) will offer specialised care to those living with the disease, while providing outreach programmes that promote healthy lifestyles within the camp. Making advanced diagnostic equipment available in the Centre will also facilitate early detection and reduce the need for patients to be hospitalised.

As the main provider of primary medical care to Palestine refugees in the West Bank, UNRWA is committed to delivering high-quality health programmes to its beneficiaries. The Shams Centre’s treatment of chronic, non-communicable illnesses will complement existing programmes offered by the Agency through its 138 health care facilities, including 63 in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Background information

UNRWA provides assistance, protection and advocacy for nearly five million registered Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied Palestinian territory, pending a solution to their plight. The Agency’s services encompass education, health care, social safety-net, camp infrastructure and improvement, community support, microfinance and emergency response, including in times of armed conflict.

For more information please contact:

Ilona Kassissieh
Public Information Officer
Mobile: 054 216 8717
Cell: 02 589 0408

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$ 100 million.

For more information, please contact: