The multi-sectoral nutrition assessment conducted in the vulnerable areas of the Gaza Strip,

The health sector in Gaza has been heavily disrupted by years of con􀃯ict, restrictions on movements of people and goods, and socio-economic decline

Highlights

The assessment of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practices showed that the majority of the respondents wash their
hands after using the bathroom and before cooking, but 25% of households have no soap for hand washing and the majority
access piped water as their primary water source.
The focus group discussions conducted with mothers of children aged 0-23 months validated several findings of the survey.
Mothers recognise the importance of exclusive breastfeeding, but cultural practices and traditions, coupled with
misconceptions and misinformation, mean exclusive breastfeeding is not widespread or sustained. Mothers adopt unsafe
practices due to financial and economic constraints, such as giving milk to their infant that is not suitable for their age.
Complementary feeding practices are even more affected by the current crisis of limited economic capacity and reliance on
food aid and external support. Complementary feeding practices are dictated by what is available in the household, and
most of the time there is not enough to meet the requirements of a young child.
The interviews with key infiuencers provide valuable information on the current status of the nutrition programme in the
Gaza Strip. There is an agreement that nutrition needs in Gaza has not been demonstrated as acute. This led to not have
recognised the needs as a priority, and in the last four years, many international organizations have withdrawn their
support.
More than 40% of children less than five years experienced acute respiratory infections (ARI), while almost 40% experience
diarrhoea. Medical attention was sought for less than half of these children. A further analysis was conducted to compare
incidences of sickness (diarrhoea and ARI) with recommended breastfeeding practices among infants less than 6 months.
The infants less than 6 months that were not exclusively breastfeeding were found to be twice as affected by diarrhoea and
ARI, compared with those exclusively breastfeeding.
Approximately 93% of caregivers reported concerns about some form of well-being issues for their children. Among the top
problems cited were the inability to meet children's basic needs, such as clothing, medicine and education, recurrent
sickness, and behavioural and psychological concerns. The insufficiency of food was mentioned as the fourth largest
problem for children.
Overall, the findings demonstrate an urgent need for a concerted and strategic approach to address the gaps and work to
improve the situation. In response to the main recommendations of the assessment and the urgent needs highlighted, an
operational multi-agency Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition multi-year action plan has been developed.
Integration across sectors to guide the collective response and the support of a sustained capacity-building programme for
field workers are among the key characteristics of the action plan. Furthermore, the action plan promotes the support of
community-based initiatives to sensitise, educate and increase community participation and leadership in the
improvement of the nutritional status of the population. 

Author
UNICEF-State of Palestine
Publication date
Languages
English

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