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UN delivering improved health services for over five million Palestinians according to new report
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, is delivering improved health services to millions of Palestine refugees across the Middle East because of root and branch reforms. These are the findings of a new report from UNRWA’s Health Department published today in Geneva. Indicators include a decrease in the average number of daily medical consultations per doctor, an increase in consultation times and decrease in antibiotics prescription rates.
The Director of UNRWA’s Health Department, Dr Akihiro Seita, says these improvements are the direct result of Agency-wide reforms and sheer hard work from UNRWA staff. “The indicators are impressive and show that the “Family Health Team” model which our reforms have brought in to 99 or our 115 health centres (86%) are having a real impact on the health of our beneficiaries. I’d like to pay tribute to the extraordinary effort s of the UNRWA health teams, working in some of the most challenging environments today; amid civil war in Syria, under bombardment and blockade in Gaza and amid the Israeli occupation in the West Bank.”
Other indicators included in the report show that maternal and child health indictors such as vaccination coverage, early registration to preventive care and percentage of pregnant women attending at least four antenatal case visits remain at a high level. Moreover, screening activities for Non-Communicable Diseases were strengthened and referrals to psychosocial counselors have increased.
According to Dr Seita, “the total number of maternal deaths among the Palestine refugee population was reduced, and immunization coverage rates for different target populations continued to be around 99%, leading to zero percent outbreaks of immunization-preventable communicable diseases.”
The Family Health Team (FHT) model offers a primary care package focused on providing comprehensive and holistic primary health care for the entire family. This person-centred approach has been successfully adopted in many developed and developing countries. The FHT was designed to improve quality, efficiency and effectiveness of health services, particularly targeting Non Communicable Diseases. The FHT approach is supported by the concurrent introduction of electronic medical records (e-Health) and health centre upgrades to better accommodate the infrastructure needs of the new approach.
A full version of the UNRWA Health Programme’s Annual Report 2014 can be downloaded here.
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s programme budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals. UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.
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