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UNRWA and SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being
Universal health coverage means that all people have access to the quality health care they need, when and where they need these services, without financial hardship. At its heart is primary health care, which is about caring for people and helping them improve their health or maintain their well-being, rather than just treating a single disease or condition. COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of both universal health coverage and well-coordinated, multisectoral health responses as effective pandemic mitigation measures. The UNRWA response to COVID-19 showcased the Agency’s strength as a frontline service provider through innovative and adjusted service provision including the introduction of telemedicine and staggered health centre appointment and triage protocols, the home delivery of essential medicines and, in certain fields, partnering with host government vaccination campaigns to minimize the spread of the disease.
UNRWA has been the main comprehensive primary health-care provider for Palestine refugees for over 70 years, while assisting the most vulnerable to access secondary and tertiary care. With 140 health centres and some 3,000 health staff across its five fields of operation, the Agency delivers over 8.5 million7 primary health-care consultations per year. A total of 1,926,736 individuals accessed UNRWA health services in 2021.
Immunization, maternal and child health, including ante- and post-natal care, and sexual and reproductive health, including family planning, have constituted core activities in UNRWA health centres for decades. In line with the changing health profile of the Palestine refugee population, the Agency has also placed increased emphasis on the prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases and chronic conditions that require lifelong care, including diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases.
COVID-19, persistent insecurity, occasional outbreaks of violence, widespread poverty and restrictions on the movement of persons and goods have resulted in deep distress among Palestine refugees across many fields of UNRWA operation. In order to support their psychosocial well-being, mental health and psychosocial support are being mainstreamed across Agency programming. This is with a view to protecting and promoting the right of every Palestine refugee to achieve the best possible mental health and psychosocial well-being.
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