UNRWA in Lebanon estimates that one out of four Palestinian mothers of child-bearing age and as many as six out of ten children are affected by nutritional iron deficiency anemia.
The best way to combat the deficiency is through a good diet and, in certain conditions, iron supplements.
ANERA has partnered with UNRWA to combat iron deficiency anemia through an energetic information campaign, “Strong as Iron.”
The model is ANERA’s successful Creative Health Campaign, which combines community participation in project designs; development of practices that community members can do by themselves; fostering learning environments with peer education, active learning, creative arts, self esteem, and joy; and the production of interactive educational materials.
“The skill enhancement sessions provided by ANERA have encouraged our nurses to combine their medical knowledge with their creativity when working with the community,” said Irina Prentice, UNRWA Communications Officer. “Nurses feel greater ownership over the materials and are developing persuasive communication methods to get vital medical advice across to the community members they are working with.”
That sentiment was echoed by Enass Abdullah, an UNRWA nurse in the Palestinian camp Ein el Helweh in southern Lebanon. Her team organized a cooking session attended by 28 mothers and their children. “It was quite an experience to introduce something new to so many.” The team provided black lentil soup as part of the lesson about iron-rich diets to combat anemia. “We discovered that three out of four of the women in the session were aware of anemia but many of them had the mistaken belief that iron causes tooth decay, which we corrected,” added Ms. Abdullah.
The “Strong as Iron” campaign is currently taking place in all Palestinian refugee camps and gatherings across Lebanon. ANERA is collaborating with UNRWA, Medical Aid for Palestine UK, UNICEF, Palestine Red Crescent, Women Humanitarian Organization, Popular Aid for Relief and Development, NABA’A, General Union of Palestinian Women and Beit Atfal Assoumoud to make this campaign a wide-reaching success.