UNRWA increases its coverage of tertiary health care for Palestine refugees in Lebanon

19 April 2012

18 April 2012
Beirut

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) announced today that following intensive fundraising efforts, the Agency was able to further increase its average coverage of tertiary health care services for Palestine refugees living in Lebanon from 40 to 50 per cent.

These changes will take effect on 1 May 2012. The Agency had already increased its coverage for tertiary health care from 30 to 40 per cent in May 2011.

Palestinian patients are eligible to benefit from this increase at all hospitals contracted by UNRWA for tertiary health care services. For surgical admissions, the coverage will increase to 50 per cent of the Ministry of Health rate. In the case of medical admissions, the Agency’s coverage will be increased from USD 250 to USD 300 per day of hospitalisation. The maximum duration of coverage was also increased from 12 to 14 days, bringing the ceiling of coverage to USD 4200 per patient from the current USD 3000.

For the past two years, UNRWA has worked to improve its hospitalisation services, taking into account the high cost of hospital care and the exclusion of Palestinians from public health insurance and social security. The Agency has engaged in fundraising to meet these needs.

Other important improvements to UNRWA’s tertiary health care services were introduced last year. UNRWA reached an agreement with the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health to avail medications for cancer and other catastrophic illnesses at a discounted rate for Palestine refugees – and at no cost to the Lebanese government. With this new agreement, which entered into force on 31 March 2011, Palestine refugees are now able to save between 10 and 60 per cent on medications, depending on the type they purchase from a third-party provider identified by the Ministry of Public Health.

In April 2011, UNRWA introduced the Catastrophic Ailment Relief programme (CARE) to further assist patients suffering from catastrophic illnesses by improving their access to medical care and reducing their financial burden. Patients suffering from such diseases will also benefit financially from discounted prices offered to them through various agreements.

Around 280,000 Palestine refugees living in Lebanon benefit from the Agency‘s primary health care and hospitalisation services. As the main provider of health care services to Palestine refugees, UNRWA operates 28 health centres inside refugee camps and in Palestinian communities across Lebanon, providing free primary health care services, including medical consultations and essential medications.

The Agency covers a large portion of secondary hospitalisation services, comprising 85 per cent of total hospital admissions, through its contracts with 23 government, private, and Red Crescent hospitals. Tertiary care services, a more sophisticated form of hospitalisation, are provided in 15 contracted hospitals and covered partially by the Agency.

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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$ 68.2 million.

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