GENEVA, June 13 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) on Wednesday warned that infant mortality has not declined for the last decade in Gaza Strip, meaning the worrying overall social and economic situation there.
In a new report published Wednesday, the agency found that the infant mortality rate among Palestinian refugees in Gaza was 22.7 per 1000 live births, within the same range of the previously reported rate of 22.4 per 1000 live births in 2015 and 20.2 per 1000 live births from the study conducted in 2006.
"The Palestine refugees account for more than seventy percent of the entire populations in Gaza. Infant mortality is a barometer of the health of an entire population," Director of UNRWA's Health Department, Dr Akihiro Seita, said.
"This finding needs our attention since the ultimate goal is to maintain a continuing decline of infant mortality and to stop preventable infant deaths," said Dr Seita.
According to UNRWA, the socioeconomic situation in Gaza has deteriorated dramatically in the past decade following the imposition of the blockade and subsequent conflicts.
The blockade has affected the health sector in Gaza, as hospitals continue to lack adequate physical infrastructure, drugs, supplies, and infection prevention material, the UNRWA said.
"It is reasonable to assume that the unstable power supply, the deteriorating functionality of medical equipment, the periodic shortages of essential drugs and medical consumables have had an impact on the quality of medical care with a consequent impact on infant mortality," it added.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the UN General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.4 million Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA.