What We Do
For over 60 years, the UNRWA Health programme has been delivering comprehensive primary health care (PHC) services, both preventive and curative, to Palestine refugees, and helping them access secondary and tertiary health care services.
UNRWA beneficiary populations are undergoing a demographic transition: People are living longer and developing different needs, particularly those related to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and chronic conditions that require lifelong care, such as diabetes, hypertension and cancer. A healthy life is a continuum of phases from infancy to old age, each of which has unique, specific needs, and our programme therefore takes a ‘life-cycle approach’ to providing its package of preventive and curative health services.
To address the changing needs of Palestine refugees, we undertook a major reform initiative in 2011. We introduced the Family Health Team (FHT) approach, based on the World Health Organization-indicated values of primary health care, in our primary health facilities (PHFs).
The FHT offers comprehensive primary health care services based on holistic care of the entire family, emphasizing long-term provider-patient relationships and ensuring person-centeredness, comprehensiveness and continuity. Moreover, the FHT helps address cross-cutting issues that impact health, such as diet and physical activity, education, gender-based violence, child protection, poverty and community development.
We supported the implementation of the FHT by introducing an effective appointment system, along with a health informatics platform and electronic medical records (E-Health). By 2015, we plan to roll out the FHT approach to all 139 health centres across our five fields of operations.
In addition, the UNRWA Environmental Health programme controls the quality of drinking water, provides sanitation and carries out vector and rodent control in refugee camps, thus reducing the risk of epidemics.
For more information read health programme 2021 fact sheet.
Health In Our Fields
Years of socioeconomic decline, conflict and closure have left the health sector across the Gaza Strip lacking adequate physical infrastructure and training opportunities. Facilities are overstretched, and service is frequently interrupted by power cuts. These challenges further threaten the health of the population, which is already at increasing risk. Food insecurity and rising poverty mean that most residents cannot meet their daily caloric requirements, while over 90 per cent of the water in Gaza has been deemed unfit for human consumption.
Through 22 centres, UNRWA provides...Read more
The ongoing Israeli occupation has had a damaging effect on Palestine refugees in the West Bank, who frequently face dispossession and displacement, as well as increasing humanitarian concerns arising from increased settlement construction; military violence and harassment; lack of effective law enforcement; and obstructed access to land, markets and essential services, including health services.
Within this state of constant frustration and insecurity, economic pressure and helplessness, reports of depression and violence in schools, communities and homes have all increased. The...Read more
The ongoing conflict in Syria has had a serious impact on the health of the Palestine refugee community. Access to UNRWA health centres has become increasingly difficult and dangerous; in some cases, violence, damage and insecurity have forced health centres to close entirely. Of the Agency’s original 23, 14 remain open as of March – 9 in Damascus and 1 each in Homs, Hama, Latakia, Neirab and Aleppo. In Damascus and Aleppo areas with high concentrations of displaced Palestine refugees, we are using new health points to help address the community’s needs, including the increasing prevalence...Read more
Lebanon hosts 452,669 registered refugees, of whom over 50 per cent live in 12 Palestine refugee camps. They face employment restrictions, and work permits are prohibitively expensive, leading to protracted financial dependence. They are also ineligible for the state’s social services, including health care, and are exposed to recurrent episodes of violence.
Access to health care for Palestine refugees is provided only by the private sector, which has high fees, or by international organizations, including UNRWA. We...Read more
Based on criteria including their place of origin and year of arrival, most of the over 2 million Palestine refugees in Jordan have been granted citizenship, and have the same access to health care as other Jordanian citizens. However, UNRWA beneficiaries who are not Jordanian citizens, such as those who emigrated from the Gaza Strip in 1967, face restrictions on their access to health care, leaving them extremely vulnerable.
In Jordan, our clinics serve more than 1.1 million people, nearly 56 per cent of the registered Palestine refugees in the country. In our 24 health care...Read more
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