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MSF in Iran, 2006
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Iran has become home to hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees over the past decades. Since 2002, the Iranian government has put intermittent pressure on its Afghan population to repatriate and nearly two million people have left Iran.
Still, an estimated one million Afghans remain, many intending to stay. No longer considered refugees by the authorities, and since 2004 without rights to private healthcare, they face barriers in access to medical services.
MSF has been providing care to the Afghan population through both fixed and mobile clinics in Mashhad and Zahedan. In 2005, MSF conducted a total of 130,000 medical consultations in these projects — seeing primarily upper respiratory infections and diarrhoea — and made 2280 hospital referrals, many for emergency care or surgery.
In the economically deprived Zahedan, MSF has seen an increasing number of consultations and hospital referrals over the past two years. Approximately 55 per cent of the population in this area relies on MSF for access to medical consultation. In its two clinics providing primary care, 72,349 consultations were performed in 2005, and 1168 families were visited monthly in their homes.
Mashhad is Iran’s second largest city. In 2005, MSF ceased activity of three mobile clinics travelling to surrounding villages, and added a second fixed clinic in Mashhad to improve access to care. A total of 56,884 consultations were performed in 2005, and 635 families were visited per month in their homes.
Toward the end of 2005, MSF conducted a community based epidemiological survey to better understand the beneficiary population, which has changed since 2002. The survey showed that over 80 per cent of the population has been present in Iran for more than 10 years, and many had access to jobs and primary healthcare, particularly in Mashhad. MSF will therefore be closing its Mashhad program in 2006 and focusing its efforts on improving primary and secondary healthcare access for the more vulnerable population of Zahedan.
Providing post-earthquake assistance
In March of 2006, MSF distributed hygiene kits and food to 1000 families in two villages following an earthquake in Lorestan, approximately 400 km southwest of Tehran. Medical assistance was also provided to people in isolated areas.
MSF provided aid in Iran following the 1990 earthquake and has worked there continuously since 1995.