News Magazine

UNRWA Mobile Health Teams Support Palestine refugees in need across the West Bank – occupied Palestinian territory

I come to this clinic twice a week as a volunteer with UNRWA. I try to help the people from my village who come here. With every visit, the need for a permanent clinic in our village becomes clearer and more urgent. On the days when the mobile clinic is not there, some mothers have to carry their children and walk three kilometers and cross the Barta’a military checkpoint. Then, they commute an additional forty minutes to reach the nearest UNRWA health centre in Jenin!” recounts Saida Qabha.

Saida, is a Palestine refugee from the village of Barta’a in the northern West Bank. She recalls how the UNRWA mobile health team (MHT) saved the lives of two refugees from Barta’a last month. One patient was in a diabetic coma and the other had suffered severe burns on his body. The only primary health- care available was through the mobile clinic.

Thanks to over US$208,000 in support that UNRWA received from the occupied Palestinian territory’s Humanitarian Fund (oPt Humanitarian Fund), in 2021 UNRWA introduced mobile health teams (MHT) to ensure that remote refugee communities have access to continuous primary health-care services during the COVID-19 outbreak. The MHTs serve nine remote communities in Area C of the West Bank with a total population estimated at more than 40,000 people, namely: Um al-Khayr, Arab al-Rashayda, Nabi Samuel, al-Eizariya, Barta’a and Kufr Qaddum. The targeted communities experience humanitarian vulnerabilities in terms of isolation and have significantly reduced access to health services.

Palestine refugees in Barta’a continue to bear the brunt of limited freedom of movement, a consequence of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and its existing permit regime and Barrier. Residents of the village have also been deeply impacted by the economic impact of COVID-19, which complicates their access to necessary health services. Saida adds, “The cost of a medical consultation in the nearest clinic costs between NIS 200-300, some US$ 90. This highlights the need for the mobile health services provided by UNRWA.”

“UNRWA continues to pay great attention to providing assistance to refugees, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, including to the most marginalized areas, such as Barta’a village. These mobile clinics provide advanced health-care services to this marginalized group of the refugee community,” said the Director of UNRWA Affairs in the West Bank, Gwyn Lewis.

Each UNRWA MHT comprises one doctor, one nurse, one pharmacist and one clerk for registration of patients. Together they provide primary health care, including medical consultations, examinations, dispensation of essential drugs and medication for chronic disease and non-communicable disease patients in a suitable space that has been identified by the communities themselves. In addition, the MHT carries out awareness raising activities to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Abdullah Qabha, Deputy Mayor of Barta’a, expressed his appreciation for the services provided to the village, saying: “These services vary between medical care and medication for refugees and patients with non-communicable diseases.”

UNRWA is the main provider of primary health care to Palestine refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. During the COVID-19 pandemic, UNRWA contributed to strengthening provision of basic health services for remote communities, supporting their access to health care, an essential human right. Support their rights today by contributing at #PalestineRefugeesAtRisk

The oPt Humanitarian Fund is an emergency pooled fund for the occupied Palestinian territory and is primarily aligned to support the delivery of strategic humanitarian response to needs-based priority sectors and geographic areas.