RAMALLAH, Friday, December 18, 2020 (WAFA) - Under the auspices of Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UNICEF today agreed on a partnership to strengthen early childhood health care, protection, and development, and to support UNICEF's COVID-19 response activities in the State of Palestine, said a press release issued by UNICEF.
The US$ 6 million partnership agreement was signed by Torunn Viste, the Representative of Norway to the Palestinian Authority, Lucia Elmi, UNICEF Special Representative to the State of Palestine, and Mai Kileh, Palestinian Minister of Health.
Major strides have been made in the last decade to improve the situation of children in the State of Palestine, such as near-universal immunization coverage. However, much remains to be done for every Palestinian child to realize her or his full potential.
The COVID-19 outbreak in the State of Palestine is also further stretching already strained health system capacities, such as availability and access to health care services. Beyond direct illness, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH), around 30,000 newborns and 210,000 pregnant women may potentially have their health impacted as health systems become overwhelmed and routine services, such as immunization, nutrition, and treatment for childhood illnesses are reduced or suspended.
This first partnership between Norway and UNICEF in the State of Palestine provides an opportunity to make an immediate and long-lasting impact to improve the living conditions and opportunities for children in West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Primarily, the partnership links humanitarian interventions with investments in infrastructure and human capital to further improve the provision of early child health care, protection, and development services, whilst strengthening overall child health care systems, said the release.
Through this partnership UNICEF will support the MoH to strengthen child health, nutrition and development care by building the capacity of health care providers in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including in selected hospitals in East Jerusalem, reaching 6,800 children including 1,000 neonates.
UNICEF will also support the MoH's implementation of the national COVID-19 response plan by increasing the capacity of MoH and East Jerusalem hospitals to test, treat, and manage cases of COVID-19 and its associated complications, for 4,500 health professionals and 100,000 patient, the press release concluded.