UNRWA health programme celebrates International Day of Diabetes

17 November 2011

17 November 2011
West Bank

UNRWA health programme celebrated the International Day of Diabetes this week. Celebrated every year on 14 November, the motto for this year was “Let us unite together to end diabetes”.

One of the activities organised was a march in Jalazone camp in cooperation with the public committee for services on Thursday.

Felipe Sanchez, director of UNRWA operations in the West Bank, said: “As the Agency responsible for the health of refugees, UNRWA is very concerned about the rapid increase in non-communicable diseases and realises it is necessary to focus attention on the prevention and control of such diseases in cooperation with other health care providers. As part of its efforts, UNRWA is developing and implementing an integrated programme aimed at reducing exposure to risk factors by reducing smoking, promoting a healthy diet and physical activity, as well as investing in prevention.”

Patient Ana’am Dabbour added: “This is amazing since it enhances the psychological conditions of the diabetes patients, provides them with hope and strengthens their will to overcome and cope with this disease. I also benefit from medicine and instructions provided by UNRWA which helps me in dealing with psychological stress.”

Based on UNRWA statistics, diabetic patients have increased from 12,000 to 33,000 since 2000, affecting 15 per cent of Palestine refugees over 40. Type 2 diabetes is also increasingly affecting children.

UNRWA’s intervention strategy consists of several elements, varying from community health education to promote a healthy lifestyle; early detection and effective case-management of patients, including the provision of expensive medication such as insulin. In addition, UNRWA covers 70 to 100 per cent of the treatment in the local hospitals.

For the future, UNRWA is establishing a community centre for the prevention and management of diabetes as part of its vision that Palestine refugees should live healthy and free from the effects of non-communicable diseases. The centre is expected to start operating in 2012.

A medical conference on the same topic was held in Dheisheh camp in cooperation with Ibda’a Cultural Centre last week, and other activities are taking place this weekend in Tulkarm and Nur Shams camps.

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 more than US$ 106  million.

For more information, please contact: