UNRWA launches new programme for relief of catastrophic ailments

27 April 2011

27 April 2011

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, UNRWA, launched a new programme for the relief of catastrophic ailments entitled CARE (catastrophic ailment relief programme), which will improve the accessibility of patients to the care needed and reduce the financial burden on Palestinian patients.

Thanks to additional funds that UNRWA gathered with the support of private partners, health providers in Lebanon and other stakeholders, the Agency is gradually increasing its response to the growing needs in this field.

The beneficiaries of this programme are all Palestinian patients whose condition is classified as catastrophic, meaning it requires long and very costly treatment. They will receive financial assistance in addition to what they already receive under the Agency’s tertiary care. These catastrophic conditions include but are not limited to: cancer diseases, cardiovascular diseases necessitating advanced expensive cardiovascular interventions, neurological diseases etc. In addition, they include medical conditions that require admission to intensive care units or long-term expensive treatment in tertiary care hospitals (e.g. massive gastrointestinal bleeding, cerebrovascular accidents, etc.). The CARE programme also covers patients suffering from catastrophic diseases such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and whose outpatient treatment is significantly costly.

In Lebanon, 95 per cent of Palestine refugees do not have any health insurance. UNRWA almost fully covers secondary hospitalisation services, which account for 85 per cent of total hospital admissions, through its contracts with 22 hospitals (governmental, private and Palestinian Red Crescent). However, tertiary care services that are a more technologically sophisticated form of hospitalisation are provided in 15 contracted hospitals and covered only partially by the Agency. For very expensive or technically demanding tertiary treatment, the ceiling per admission often only covers part of the cost, leaving the patient to find the remaining funds.

UNRWA had announced on 8 April 2011 an increase of its coverage of tertiary healthcare services to Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon. Effective 1 May 2011, the average coverage will increase from 30 to 40 per cent. All Palestinian patients are eligible to benefit from this increase at all UNRWA‘s contracted hospitals for tertiary care services. For surgical admissions, the coverage will be increased to 40 per cent of the Ministry of Health cut rate. In the case of medical admissions, the Agency’s coverage will be raised from US$ 200 to US$ 250 per hospitalisation day, with the duration extended from 10 to 12 days, hence increasing the ceiling per admission from US$ 2,000 USD to US$ 3,000.

Meanwhile, UNRWA continues to actively seek funds in order to further improve its tertiary health care service. If successful, the Agency aims to increase its tertiary healthcare coverage to 50 per cent by the end of 2011.

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For further information please contact
Hoda Samra Souaiby
UNRWA Public information officer in Lebanon
Fax: +961-1-840468
Email: [email protected]

Background Information: 

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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