Extending Thalassaemia coverage for refugee children at Lebanon’s Chronic Care Centre

20 May 2012

18 May 2012
Beirut, Lebanon

In an agreement signed today with Lebanon’s Chronic Care Centre, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) will cover the health care costs of Palestine refugee children receiving treatment for Thalassaemia, a blood disorder prevalent in the Mediterranean region – especially among Palestinians.

Refugee children up to 11 years of age will be fully covered at the Centre through UNRWA’s Catastrophic Ailment Relief (CARE) programme, in addition to 70 per cent coverage of chronic medications at discounted rates.

Mouna Haroui, president of the Centre, welcomed the announcement: “Through this co-operative effort, patients will be provided with proper diagnosis and the appropriate specialised care. Along with the medication supplied by UNRWA, improved access to comprehensive treatment will allow Thalassaemics to cope better with their chronic condition and to avoid long-term complications. We also plan to work with UNRWA on prevention efforts, as we have demonstrated success at decreasing new births associated with the condition.”

Through a joint health awareness campaign, UNRWA and the Chronic Care Centre will conduct “train the trainer” sessions for staff of the refugee agency, helping to disseminate information about Thalassaemia among its beneficiaries in Lebanon.

“We are very pleased that this agreement will help us to provide better health care for Palestine refugee children”, said Salvatore Lombardo, speaking on behalf of UNRWA. “With the condition showing high prevalence among the refugee community in Lebanon, this collaboration will be of great importance to the families we serve.”

CARE, launched by UNRWA in April 2011, aims to reduce the financial burden on Palestine refugees accessing health care for catastrophic illnesses. With the support of private partners and health care providers in Lebanon, the Agency has gradually expanded its coverage of secondary and tertiary health care for its beneficiaries. The initiative is complemented by free primary medical care provided in UNRWA health clinics, and existing coverage for blood transfusions in hospitals contracted by the Agency.

“I wish success to this collaboration, aimed at giving every child the right to health care, and building healthier generations to come”, added Mrs. Haraoui.

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For further information please contact Hoda Samra, UNRWA Public information officer in Lebanon: +961-70-010129 fax: +961-1-840468 or by 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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