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Overcoming the challenges of primary health-care provision in Syria
Access to health care is a fundamental human right; however, the ongoing conflict in Syria and the destruction of health provision has negatively affected the health status of the whole population. A Syrian child born today is expected to live 20 fewer years than a child born six years ago. The catastrophic downturn in the health status is in part caused by the destruction of health infrastructure, violent attacks on medical staff, and the difficulty in manufacturing medicines with the closure and destruction of pharmaceutical factories. In addition, mass internal displacements have made it more difficult for people to access primary health-care facilities.
In this complex operating environment, UNRWA has had to overcome substantial challenges to ensure that the 450,000 Palestine refugees remaining in the country have access to health care. The Agency has adjusted its service delivery to make up for the loss of eight health centres and relocated its clinics to new locations to mirror internal displacements. Of the original 23 health centres, 15 are still operating and 11 new health points have been established in areas with significant populations of displaced refugees. To reach people in besieged or hard-to-reach areas, the Agency runs a mobile health clinic providing vital and urgent health care to particularly vulnerable populations.
Despite difficulties in providing access to medical facilities, the first half of 2016 marked some important milestones in health for UNRWA. From January to May, the Agency provided 395,749 health consultations and continued to reform and build upon improving the health-care system. To carry on this work in the second half of 2016, UNRWA needs to raise US$ 6,225,652 to reach its 2016 Syria Regional Crisis Emergency Appeal target for health. This is out of a total US$ 328,952,772, which is needed to carry out all programmes across Syria.
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