What is the social/environmental problem/issue that this project will address?
The ongoing blockade of Gaza has had a severe impact on its infrastructure and essential services. High levels of poverty and unemployment, coupled with dependency on humanitarian assistance, continue to increase. The daily lives of Palestinians living in Gaza are consumed by conducting the most basic tasks: ensuring that they have shelter, food and safe, clean water. These struggles are further compounded by the significant obstacle of obtaining medication. Food insecurity and rising poverty mean that most residents cannot meet their daily caloric requirements. The health sector faces regular shortages of medicine. Children, who make up more than half of the population, have known only conflict and shortages.
Can you give us some statistics on this problem?
Palestinian children living in Gaza continue to show signs of micro and macronutrient deficiencies. The most prevalent is anaemia - affecting 58% of school children and 68% of babies aged 9-12 months. According to UNICEF reports in 2012 micronutrient deficiencies, called “hidden hunger” can cause serious and irreversible cognitive and developmental deficits, especially among young children. Food insecurity and rising poverty mean that most residents cannot meet their daily caloric requirements, while over 90 per cent of the water in Gaza has been deemed unfit for human consumption.(UNRWA 2014)
What is your solution?
The local team provides care for children and their mothers at a central Gaza clinic. The outreach service is equally important in providing health checks and services for the most distant and marginalised families. The outreach team of 12 offer a holistic approach to child health screening by providing counselling and awareness sessions within the home. Families that are most vulnerable and at risk of malnourishment are targeted and nutritional supplements are provided during the visits.
How will you deliver this?
During these visits the team provides an element of counselling and educates the parents of the children. They learn about the importance of breastfeeding and how to prepare highly nutritious foods for their children and families from available resources. The outreach team often come across children suffering from respiratory infections, diarrhea diseases as well as moderate and severe anaemia. The team are then able to make a direct referral to the nearest clinic. The current loan of a minibus is due to expire which threatens the future of the outreach team.