UNRWA Releases Health Programme Report: Innovation in the Face of COVID-19

24 May 2022
Director of the UNRWA Health Programme, Dr. Akihiro Seita address the press during a press conference on the launch of the UNRWA Department of Health Annual Report 2021. © 2022 UN Photo

Today, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) released its 2021 Annual Health Report. The report provides vital information on the health and wellness of Palestine refugees across n the Agency’s five fields of operations – Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, and Syria.

The report focuses on UNRWA health interventions in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, hostilities in Gaza, the ongoing conflict in Syria and the economic crisis in Lebanon. Despite these challenges, UNRWA managed to maintain quality primary health-care services to some 1.9 million Palestine refugees, including in-person and telemedicine consultations, and secondary and tertiary care at UNRWA-contracted hospitals, including hospitlization for COVID-19 treatment. Through the Agency’s network of 140 primary health centres (HC), 3,046 health staff provided more than seven million medical (in person and telemedicine) consultations.

 “We are very proud of issuing this annual report of 2021. This was again a very difficult year for us to operate at UNRWA because of COVID-19 and instability in our communities. Still, our health staff never stopped providing services, and continued to have innovations like telemedicine. We are now reviving with our services with innovations in digital health,” said Dr. Akihiro Seita, UNRWA Director of Health.

In 2021, the UNRWA e-Health system was upgraded to facilitate telemedicine consultations, home delivery of medicines, rapid antigen tests, PCR tests, and online training modules for new staff.

By the end of 2021, the Non-Communicable Diseases Mobile Application (e-NCD) was utilized by approximately 75,000 patients, and the Maternal and Child Health Mobile Application (e-MCH) has been used by 200,000 Palestine refugee mothers and pregnant women since its introduction in 2017. In addition, the UNRWA Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) was integrated into all UNRWA HCs.

The UNRWA health programme continues to provide modern, innovative essential health care to Palestine refugees across the Middle East as it has for the past 72 years. Click here for the full report.

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 5.7 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.

For more information, please contact:

Tamara Alrifai
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+962 (0)79 090 0140