Services According to Obligations and Elements of Right to Health
Saida as an example)
The Palestinian refugees depend mainly on UNRWA for their
hospitalization. About 80% of them benefit from UNRWA’s medical services, and
20% resort to guarantor institution to get these services, whereas some opulent
refugees or those who are in need use private clinics. UNRWA medical clinics
are considered to be the primary destination for Palestinian patients as it is
the official body that is responsible for providing medical services for
refugees in camps and gatherings.
UNRWA clinic in
Saida is the
third largest city in Lebanon and the first one containing almost 35.8% of
the Palestinian refugees and Ain Al Helweh, one of the largest refugee camps in
Lebanon, in addition to Miye ou Miye camp.
clinics are found in all camps where they provide medical services for the
refugees and follow up their health during all life stages including
fertilization, pregnancy, infancy, adolescence, adulthood, and active aging.
There is also a central clinic in Saida for those living outside camps.
Medical services Provided by the central clinic in Saida:
Preventative and curative health services
Family planning services
Before and prenatal care
Postpartum follow up
Babies care (medical examinations, vaccines,
Oral and dental health
Laboratory diagnostic services
Management of non-communicable chronic diseases.
Pharmacies providing available medicines
Challenges faced by patients in UNRWA central clinic in Saida
Crowding of patients resulting in a long waiting before seeing the
Not enough number of seats because of crowding of patients.
Closed elevator and inability of old people to reach the clinics,
laboratories, and dental clinic.
Lack of privacy due to examining of patients at the building entrance because
they can’t go upstairs without using elevator.
Lack of various specialized doctors which oblige patients to resort
to private clinics whose expenses may exceed their financial ability.
Patients obliged to buy medications of high prices from other
pharmacies due to absence of those needed for many
Difficulty in obtaining referrals to hospitals,
despite the presence of critical cases that require the necessary intervention.
Right to health in comparison with health
department performance in UNRWA:
The right to medical services is one the
most important human rights that must be implemented to ensure individuals
health in societies. Like other human rights, the right to health imposes three
types of obligations:
Respect: not interfering in the enjoyment of the right to health.
Protection: ensure that no third party might impede the enjoyment of the
right to health.
Performance: taking positive action to
realize the right to health.
Respect is a primary principle in UNRWA’s policy as it requires from its employees to respect
beneficiaries of the agency’s services without harassing them, in addition to
adhering to protection of individuals. However, these policies need monitoring of employees’ treatment towards beneficiaries
and permitting latter’s suggestions and complaints. Likewise, staff and
officials’ performance need attentive supervision and constant follow up in
order to find positive steps to implement the right to health, especially in
terms of rationalizing expenditures directed to the health department in UNRWA.
The right to health includes four elements,
availability, easy access, admissibility, and quality.
The performance of the health department in the central UNRWA clinic in
Saida indicates the following:
Availability: the clinic opens five days a week and receives all
patients, however, neither doctors of all specialties are available nor
medicines for all diseases.
Easy Access: it is easy to reach the clinic in Saida, but it is on
the 1st floor and patients are forbidden to use the elevator which obstructs
old people and those having chronic diseases from reaching and receiving the
Admissibility: the clinic staff generally respect patients and treat
them in a good manner regardless of some quarrels due to the crowding of
Quality: the quality of services seems to be relatively adequate at the clinic serving
a considerable number of patients. However, patients are not completely
satisfied of this quality especially due to shortage of medicines and services.
As the right
to health is guaranteed by international norms and declarations, the
Palestinian Association for Human Rights recommends the following:
assign doctors of all specialties to meet
all patients’ needs.
Expand the clinic or open new ones to accommodate all patients and avoid crowding.
Secure medicines for all diseases
especially the expensive ones.
Increase the percentage of expenditures coverage
of medical surgeries and services of second and third level.