Nearly a quarter of all Palestinian refugee families in Syria live below the poverty line and genetic disorders caused by interfamily marriage are an enormous health issue. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and UNICEF are supporting health care centers to provide immunization, primary care and genetic counseling.
Six kilometers east of Damascus, more than 20,000 Palestinian refugees live in the Jaramana camp. The vast majority of them live in poverty, most are unemployed. Those that do work find day labor in construction and industry. Interfamily marriages are common here, resulting in a high incidence of genetic disorders. Eighty-five percent of the total registered refugees in Syria obtain free medical support through two dozen health centers run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The Jaramana clinic provides primary health care, mother and child health, family planning, disease prevention and control, and dental services. During the first year of an infant’s life, mothers bring their babies once a month to receive immunization and to monitor their growth and development. But poverty still takes its toll on the well being of children.
NOUJOUD MOH’D [Mother of five children]
My economic situation is so bad that I applied for additional support.
One in forty children under the age of five is severely underweight.
DR. HASSAN ARAB [Head of Jaramana Clinic]
We suffer from high prevalence of iron deficiency anemia among children and pregnant women. Families are not aware that it is through proper feeding and not through medicine that we can solve the problem.
Medical workers here hold workshops on sickle cell anemia and other genetic disorders. Early identification of hereditary disease and genetic counseling can help reduce the problem. UNICEF supports sickle cell anemia screening in the Palestinian camps and has trained more than 140 health workers. Their help is crucial for mothers struggling to care for their children in an impoverished and overcrowded landscape. This is Elizabeth Kiem reporting for UNICEF Television. Unite for children.