Saudi Ambassador, Naif bin Bandar al-Sidairi, and Director of UNRWA Affairs in Jordan, Marta Lorenzo, cut the ribbon to the newly constructed UNRWA health center in Aqaba, Jordan, during the inauguration ceremony, 31 January 2021. (UNRWA Photo)
The Saudi Ambassador to Jordan, Naif bin Bandar al-Sidairi, and the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Jordan, Marta Lorenzo, inaugurated on Sunday the newly constructed Saudi-funded UNRWA health center in Aqaba city, in Jordan, in the presence of the Director- General of the Department of Palestinian Affairs Eng. Rafiq Khirfan, and on behalf of Aqaba Governor Mohammed Rafaia, the administrator of the Aqaba District, Faisal Almasayeed, and several media outlets covering the event.
The new health centre was constructed, furnished and equipped thanks to a US$ 1 million donation received from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), replacing the old, rented health centre and was designed to facilitate access of persons with disabilities. The Government of Jordan provided the land assigned for the construction of the health centre through the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority.
In line with the Agency’s efforts to minimize the environmental impact of its own operations, the centre features an environmentally-friendly solar system to generate electricity and heat water. Trees and greenery cover the premises and there is a sun-shade. Furthermore, the building was designed to be earthquake resistant. Operationally, the Aqaba health centre will apply the innovative family health team approach, e-health and the digital Queuing Management System (QMS).
Speaking at the ceremony, Nayef, said, "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a pioneer in humanitarian work, with the aim of alleviating human suffering from various affected people around the world, and is keen to harness its capabilities and resources in the service of humanitarian issues in cooperation with the United Nations and its agencies and international community organizations.”
“On top of that is what the Kingdom is doing in devoting its capabilities to support the Palestinian cause in various fields, including the historical cooperation relationship with UNRWA, continuous support for its services and appreciation of its role towards supporting Palestine refugees”, he added, noting that “this health project comes within the same context and that Saudi Arabia is one of the first countries to support the agency, as it is the second largest donor.”
As part of the ceremony, Naif bin Bandar al-Sidairi, the Director of UNRWA Affairs, Eng. Rafiq Khirfan and the local notables from the city of Aqaba took a tour inside the health centre where they met with UNRWA health staff and beneficiaries to get their feedback on the services provided and toured the facilities.
“On behalf of UNRWA, I would like to extend our deepest appreciation to the generous contribution and partnership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with UNRWA and their continuous support to Palestine refugees. The reconstruction of this health center is a critical investment which will serve nearly 10,000 Palestine refugees in Aqaba city,” said the Director of UNRWA Affairs Marta Lorenzo.
“Primary health services must continue to address health preventive and curative needs of Palestine refugees, particularly amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” she continued.
In 2020, the Aqaba health center provided services to over 1,600 children aged between 0-5 years and 159 pregnant women. Family planning services were extended to 446 Palestine refugees. There were nearly 1000 medical consultations per month and 350 monthly dental consultations.
In Jordan, UNRWA delivers health services to Palestine refugees through a network of 25 health centers and four mobile clinics, located inside and within the vicinity of Palestine refugee camps and throughout the Kingdom. Over one million patients visit UNRWA health facilities annually.
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall.