Japan and UNRWA, Growing Together: 15 Years of Support for Maternal and Child Health Care

07 June 2023
Palestine Refugee mothers and children gather at the Japanese Health Centre in Khan Younis, Gaza to commemorate the launch of the UNRWA Mother and Child Manual. © 2023 UNRWA Photo by Mohammed Hinnawi

Gaza, 6 June 2023: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) celebrated the 15-year anniversary of the UNRWA Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Handbook at the UNRWA Japanese Health Centre today.

The MCH Handbook was initially introduced to the occupied Palestinian territory with the help of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Palestinian Ministry of Health in 2008. The handbook provides holistic care information for mothers and children and includes health records from pregnancy and delivery, to the child’s first five years of life.

Some 100 mothers and children attended the event at the UNRWA Khan Younis Health Centre - established with the support from the Government of Japan - to show their gratitude for the Japanese contribution to the health and wellbeing of Palestine Refugee mothers across the Gaza Strip and beyond.

“We are proud of the contribution of this Japanese experience to raising the level of health for all mothers and their children among the Palestinian refugees,” said Mr. NAKASHIMA Yoichi, Ambassador of Japan for Palestinian Affairs and Representative of Japan to Palestine.

“I heard that this MCH Handbook is called “passport for saving lives of mothers and children,” which means that regardless of where you are born and where you live, with this handbook, continuous and equal health care service can be provided to all mothers and children. We highly appreciate great and continuous support from people from Japan and UNRWA for their dedicated contributions,” said Mitsutaka Hoshi, Chief Representative of JICA Palestine.

“At UNRWA, we cannot talk about maternal and childcare without the MCH booklet. Every single pregnant woman uses a MCH booklet, and to date, more than 1 million women and children use the booklet in UNRWA health centres. The booklet contributed to the improvement of health services and supported strong bonds for mothers and children and contributes to the healthy families in Palestine Refugee communities. We all appreciate support from Japan, and mothers are calling the booklet as JICA books,” said Akihiro Seita, UNRWA Director of Health.

The year 2023 marks the 70th anniversary of the support of Japan for UNRWA and Palestine Refugees. The generous contribution this year includes “Offering Emergency Education and lifesaving Food Assistance to Palestine Refugees in the Gaza Strip” of US$ 13 million from Japan to Palestine Refugees in the Gaza Strip.


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Notes to Editors

  • It is worth mentioning that since its launch, the MCH Handbook has been used widely across the West Bank, Gaza, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan.
  • In 2022, UNRWA provided maternal health-care services, and family planning care for 190,827 women, 81,166 pregnancies and 425,585 infants and children (0-5 years old).
Background Information: 

UNRWA is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. The United Nations General Assembly established UNRWA in 1949 with a mandate to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees in the Agency’s area of operations pending a just and lasting solution to their plight.

UNRWA operates in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, The Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. 

Tens of thousands of Palestine refugees who lost their homes and livelihoods due to the 1948 conflict continue to be displaced and in need of support, nearly 75 years on.

UNRWA helps Palestine Refugees achieve their full potential in human development through quality services it provides in education, health care, relief and social services, protection, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance, and emergency assistance. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.


For more information, please contact:

Juliette Touma
UNRWA Director of Communications
+962-79-867-4628 (on whatsapp)
Secondary mobile: 
+972 54240-2753
Tamara Alrifai
UNRWA Spokesperson/ Director of External Relations & Communications
+962 (0)79 090 0140