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UNRWA to Stop Paying For Private Hospitals

UNRWA on Monday said it will no longer pay for medical treatment at private hospitals, noting that this will lower hospitalization costs for the refugee agency, which is suffering a severe financial shortfall.

“The agency used to pay up to 75 per cent for emergency and critical cases treated at private hospitals, but this will now stop,” UNRWA spokesperson in Jordan, Matar Saqer, said.

According to Saqer, 93 per cent of hospitalization cases at refugee camps were referred to public hospitals across the Kingdom, while the rest used to account for 30 per cent of the budget allocated for medical services.

In August this year, financial difficulties forced the relief agency, which provides core services to around 4.6 million Palestinian refugees in its five fields of operation (Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza), to cut some non-essential health services.

The maximum coverage of fees at public and private hospitals was lowered to JD150 per case for patients who cannot afford hospital fees instead of JD450, and JD100 instead of JD350 for those who can.

Over the past few months, thousands of UNRWA teachers and other employees across the Kingdom staged several work stoppages demanding that the agency improve their salaries and benefits.

On Sunday, the agency announced that it had reached an understanding with staff unions to increase salaries by 3 per cent for its staff in Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza in early 2010, in addition to adjustments to ensure workers’ earnings are comparable to those of their peers in the public sector.

UNRWA also agreed to increase retirement benefits for all staff retiring on or after January 1, 2010 by raising the compensation system from 8.5 per cent to 10 per cent of the retired employee’s annual salary for each year of service.

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