STORY: Health Conditions of Palestine Refugees - UNRWA
SOURCE: UNTV CH
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
RELEASE DATE: 23 May 2023
Over two million Palestine refugees received medical consultation in 2022, says UNRWA
Despite the protracted challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, political instability and funding shortfalls, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has continued to deliver its essential work to provide health care services to Palestine refugees in 2022 across the Agency’s five fields of operation Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza and Syria, it said on Tuesday.
“Last year, we managed to provide medical consultations for eight million persons. Some people came more than once or twice but eight million consultations. That is really great which includes 300,000 people living with diabetes and hypertension or non-communicable diseases and also 90,000 pregnant mothers,” said Dr. Akihiro Seita, UNRWA’s Director of Health.
Out of the 5.9 million registered Palestine refugees, it is estimated that 3.2 million Palestinian refugees are registered at UNRWA Health Centers and receive health services free of charge. The number of consultations increased by 12.4 percent compared to 2021.
In 2022, UNRWA’s health programs successfully combated a resurgence of cholera in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, in addition to the Omicron strain of Covid-19.
Furthermore, UNRWA health centres in Gaza and the occupied West Bank provided vital health care amid hostilities.
“Last week, we had armed conflict in Gaza but still all 22 health centres stayed open and provided critical primary healthcare service and fifty percent of the staff continued to attend,” emphasized Dr. Seita.
Currently, it is estimated that 3.2 million or 53.9 per cent of Palestinian refugees still heavily rely on UNRWA services due to economic hardship, high unemployment rates, and worsening poverty levels, especially in conflict areas. Around one-third of registered Palestinian refugees reside in 58 official refugee camps, living side-by-side among host countries' communities.
UNRWA manages 240 health centers with more than 3,000 staff that provide a comprehensive range of primary health care.
“Gender-based violence is also on the rise. That is our main concern and worry”, said Dr. Seita. “At the same time, children are suffering not only mentally, but also physically. We started to provide mental health care for the children because they were realizing the importance of mental healthcare for the children.”
Mental health is another area of UNRWA’s health priorities. According to Dr. Seita, patients in Gaza have the highest detection rate at 26.4 per cent. In 2021, around 15,000 people needed psychosocial support. However, “in 2022, it has more than doubled – 35,000 people- so that the need for mental health continued to increase and there is no need to explain why”, said Dr. Seita. “If you see the news, how life is in Gaza, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Lebanon, Syria and some parts of Jordan- life becomes more difficult.”
Over the span of seven decades of displacement, the number of Palestine refugees has increased from 750,000 in 1950 to 5.9 million in 2022. Throughout these years, UNRWA has been committed to providing quality health services to address the needs of Palestine refugees.