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MSF in Iran, 2004
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Since the fall of the Taliban regime in November 2001, millions of Afghan refugees in Iran have faced pressure to leave Iran and return home despite the continuing insecurity and difficult living conditions in Afghanistan.
MSF assists refugees in the city of Mashhad, in the northeastern border province of Khorasan, and in the city of Zahedan, in the southeastern province of Sistan-va-Baluchestan. The latter is Iran's least-developed region and the main entry point for refugees. MSF provides medical consultations and nursing care at both locations through standing facilities and mobile clinics. At present, there are seven mobile clinic sites in Mashhad and four in Zahedan. In addition, the Mashhad project offers prenatal care and midwifery services, and the project in Zahedan treats malnutrition. Teams in both cities each carry out approximately 4,000 consultations every month. The teams also provide food aid and other basic necessities to the most vulnerable families.
In the final days of 2003, MSF sent medical and logistical staff to the southern city of Bam to offer assistance after a devastating earthquake on 26 December 2003. With an official death toll of 40,000 people, the city, along with many of its health facilities, was almost completely destroyed. MSF set up mobile clinics and tent facilities offering medical care, nursing care and midwifery services in several parts of Bam and in the surrounding villages. The medical teams treated civilians suffering from emergency health problems including trauma wounds, lung infections caused by dust and gastritis. They also cared for people with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, hypertension and epilepsy, who no longer had access to their daily treatment. After three months of activity, approximately 9,000 consultations had taken place. MSF also sent a team of nephrologists (kidney specialists) and a nurse to help treat victims with "crush syndrome" in two hospitals in the nearby city of Kerman. (Crush syndrome is a condition in which muscle tissue damaged by severe internal injury can release massive quantities of toxins into the bloodstream and lead to kidney failure.) MSF flew in six dialysis machines and medicines needed to treat the syndrome. Teams also built sanitary facilities including 300 latrines and 200 showers.
MSF psychologists treated trauma related to the earthquake and developed a mental health project to support those needing psychosocial care in Bam and in the surrounding area. Approximately 3,000 people met with members of this team in the weeks after the disaster.
In March 2004, MSF ended its program in Bam and transferred oversight of its mental health activities to the ministry of health.
MSF provided aid in Iran following the 1990 earthquake and has worked there continuously since 1995.