What We Do

UNRWA delivers basic health services and is responsible for providing a healthy living environment for Palestine refugees.


For over 60 years, UNRWA has significantly improved the health of Palestine refugees. Diseases preventable by vaccines and other communicable diseases have been almost eradicated, and infant, child and maternal mortality rates have declined.

Despite these achievements, we remain continuously challenged by outbreaks of conflict, notably in Lebanon, Syria, and the occupied Palestinian territory, where doctors’ and nurses’ attendance at their health centres was jeopardized by frequent closures and checkpoints. The context in which we work is also changing on a daily basis: global healthcare costs continue to rise, Palestine refugee populations continue to grow and the burden of non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity and cancer is expanding.

  • Inequitable access to health
  • Increased demand and costs for specialized care, particularly for non-communicable diseases, which is an increasing financial burden for Palestine refugees 
  • The Palestine refugee population UNRWA serves continues to increase in size and age, leading to a higher risk of NCDs, increased intensity of health care utilization and a growing demand for cost-intensive secondary, tertiary and long-term care 
  • Doctors are still serving as many as 100 patients per day, high numbers that increasingly challeng clinicians in provision of quality health care
  • UNRWA has experienced substantial increases in the costs of medicines and hospitalization fees in recent years
  • Donor funding and operational space have both been impacted by the global financial crisis and the Syrian conflict, affecting UNRWA ability to sustain new, innovative approaches such as FHT and E-health
  • Difficulties obtaining building permits hindered appropriate maintenance and expansion of the health infrastructure.
  • Movement restrictions have prevented Palestine refugees from accessing six Palestinian NGO hospitals in East Jerusalem, the main providers of specialized care for the occupied Palestinian territory. 
  • Overutilization of UNRWA services is a significant challenge for the health programme
  • Conflicts in Syria and Gaza have stretched the resources and assets of every relief agency, including UNRWA; the influx of Palestinian refugees from Syria into Lebanon and Jordan has also put pressure on UNRWA facilities in those countries, particularly Lebanon

We are reforming our health care system to meet these challenges, starting with the introduction of a holistic family health team approach.