UNRWA's health programme hard hit in Syria

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Aleppo, Syria: A burnt out bus in an opposition-held area of Aleppo visited by the UN inter-agency convoy and SARC (Syrian Arab Red Crescent). [OCHA/Gemma Connell]

"There is no doubt we still have considerable ways to go to realize our ultimate Human Development Goal, "A Long and Healthy Life".

That's what Filippo Grandi, the head of UNRWA, the UN agency assisting Palestinian refugees, told delegates at the Sixth World Health Organization's World Health Summit

in Geneva.

But he said "nonetheless, we are moving in the right direction and incremental gains are accruing despite the difficult environments" in which UNRWA operates.

The Syrian conflict has halted UNRWA's efforts to roll out its health reform in the country. UNRWA has 23 health centers in Syria providing care for 525,000 Palestine refugees. Almost half of the health centers are closed, and access to life-saving medicines, particularly for non-communicable diseases is not fully secured.

Dr Akihiro Seita, the director of UNRWA's Health Programme said "It is a very difficult time… yet we are committed to deliver health services to Palestine refugees".

He said while there have some clinic closures, "we have responded to changing needs by setting up 6 extra health posts where there are the greatest numbers of internally displaced Palestine refugees".

In late 2011, UNRWA initiated health reforms introducing the Family Health Team (FHT) model to address a growing health disease burden defined by patients suffering from non-communicable diseases. The FHT approach aims at improving quality and efficiency of health service delivery by providing comprehensive and holistic primary health care for the entire family, and by emphasizing long-term provider-patient and family relationships.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’28″

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