Research by QMU’s global health experts shows that funding cuts to a humanitarian agency which supports more that 5 million Palestinian refugees will result in the deaths of thousands of pregnant woman and new born children. This new research, which highlights the challenges faced by development agencies in ensuring the health and dignity of refugees, was printed today (31 March) in the Lancet.
The team in QMU’s Institute for Global Health and Development, along with partners in American University of Beirut, conducted research to demonstrate the impact of the funding crisis facing the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). UNWRA’s work is essential in providing health services to Palestinian refugees impacted by the Syrian crisis.
Based on detailed analysis of health records, the global health research team has estimated that a funding shortfall will result in an annual increase of at least 250 deaths of pregnant women (maternal deaths) and 2000 new born children (neonatal) across the refugee population served by UNRWA. Prevention and control of non-communicable diseases will also be impacted leading to an increase in hospital admissions and rise in health expenditures.
Dr Karin Diaconu, Research Fellow with QMU’s Institute for Global Health and Development, said: “Our research shows that UNRWA has an excellent track record of offering cost effective integrated primary healthcare packages to refugees, which have a strong focus on prevention. However, the current funding crisis could severely compromise the organisation’s capacity to support the health and dignity of Palestinians resulting in increased deaths and healthcare costs.
Dr Diaconu concluded: “We now have the evidence, as well as the moral rationale, to call on the international community to fund UNRWA. A lack of appropriate funding will undoubtedly result in the deaths of women and newborns as well as across the wider Palestinian refugee community.” #FundUNRWA
Notes to Editor
This work is informed by ongoing research funded by Elrha’s Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) Programme. The R2HC programme aims to improve health outcomes by strengthening the evidence base for public health interventions in humanitarian crises. The R2HC programme is funded equally by the Wellcome Trust and the UK Government (Department for International Development)., with Elrha overseeing the programme’s execution and management. Alastair Ager, Director of QMU’s Institute for Global Health and Development is Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser to UK Government (Department for International Development).
The research is being carried out by Faculty of Health Science, American University Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon and Institute for Global Health and Development at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.
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