AFD, UNICEF sign partnership to strengthen maternal and neonatal health

PNN/ Bethlehem/

The French Development Agency (AFD) and UNICEF today agreed on a partnership to strengthen maternal and neonatal healthcare for vulnerable women, newborn babies and young children in the Gaza Strip, State of Palestine. This €10.9 million partnership agreement is funded by the AFD.

Rémi Genevey, AFD Director for Eastern Europe, Middle East and Asia, and Genevieve Boutin, UNICEF Special Representative to the State of Palestine, signed the agreement in the Palestinian Ministry 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 to reduce neonatal mortality, which accounts for two-thirds of infant mortality and half of the under-five mortality rate.

Health services in the Gaza Strip have been severely disrupted by conflict and under-investment, risking the loss of development gains made over the last decade.

This new funding will build upon a previous joint project, signed in 2018, between the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, AFD, and UNICEF, which aimed to improve the access of lactating women and children to essential and lifesaving maternal and child health care, nutrition, and developmental services delivered at maternal facilities, neonatal hospitals, and primary healthcare clinics in Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip.

The partnership between AFD and UNICEF focuses on strengthening sustainable and gender-responsive neonatal and maternal health services, including pre-natal and postnatal care, nutrition and early childhood development in Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH) facilities in Gaza.  The partnership will also develop mechanisms to provide uninterrupted service delivery in all targeted facilities in the Gaza Strip, and will build the capacity of more than 600 health care professionals who provide new-born health care services.

The project will be implemented in cooperation with WHO, UNFPA, and other international and national partners.