Creative Health Campaign in Lebanon’s Refugee Camps

May 20, 2013 ANERA
Community Development, Health, Health Education, In-Kind Medical and Relief, Lebanon, Mother and Child, Palestinian Refugee Camps
ANERA and its partners conceived of a creative health campaign in the wake of the 2006 war in Lebanon to incorporate self-reliance into relief work.

The Reality

The Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon are considered the worst of the region’s refugee camps in terms of poverty, health, education and living conditions. Families crowded into what was designed as “temporary housing” have to cope with open channels of sewage and rotting piles of garbage, which make conditions ripe for the spread of disease. But there are few clinics and hospitals to treat the sick. The 2006 war in Lebanon exacerbated health risks,especially in camps located in southern Lebanon.

ANERA’s Response

ANERA and its partners conceived of a creative health campaign in the wake of the 2006 war in Lebanon to incorporate self-reliance into relief work. The campaign grew from six partners to more than 120 partners in 2011 and reached across Lebanon to most of the Palestinian refugee camps and gatherings (unofficial camps). The five-year program organized four national campaigns and 76 health festivals with more than 24,000 participants, including 10,000 children, hundreds of activists and volunteers. More than one million copies of health education materials were distributed tens of thousands of men, women and children to spread the message of healthy practices.

The goal was to put health into the agenda of local groups working in poor and marginalized communities and to use simple, smart and cost-effective practices that can be adopted to save on cost, foster self reliance and protect their health. The program encouraged community organizations to continue and expand the campaign, using materials and guidelines provided by ANERA.

How it Worked

From 2006 to 2011, in partnership with community-based organizations in Lebanon’s refugee camps, ANERA:

  • designed and produced health information handouts, posters, displays about good practises and nutrition, health-related educational cards and games for children
  • distributed educational materials about breastfeeding
  • organized health-related parades and creative play events for children to spread messages about no-smoking and good eating habits, which included healthy food costumes (strawberries, bananas, etc)
  • staged theatre and music performances related to healthy habits
  • conducted health awareness sessions for mothers
  • trained health workers on the rational use of medicine and proper control of the distribution of medicines through clinics and pharmacies
  • coordinated consultative platforms for community health strategies

Some Creative Health Themes

  • Breastfeeding
  • Infant & young child feeding
  • Rational use of medicine (read more about this on-going program >>)
  • Raising anti-tobacco awareness
  • Eating Fruits and Vegetables
  • Practicing Healthier Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Mixing Home-Based Oral Rehydration Solutions

Some Creative Health Events

A little Palestinian girl dressed as a strawberry in Burj El Burajneh refugee camp, Lebanon.Early in the morning of March 30, 2009, hundreds of Palestinians, mostly women and children, marched through the narrow streets of Burj El Burajneh refugee camp dressed up as fruits and vegetables, singing messages of health and cleanliness.

Dima and Karma, her youngest childDima Zayat, a full-time ANERA staffer, participated in ANERA’s public health outreach on the merits of breastfeeding: “Changing people’s behavior takes time. When someone experiences lessons that are different, creative and interactive, you do start to see changes in behavior.” Read more >>