Iranian authorities revoke approval for MSF coronavirus treatment center

MSF remains ready to deploy its emergency team and inflatable 50-bed hospital elsewhere in Iran or to other countries urgently needing support.

Coronavirus: MSF intervenes in Iran

France 2020 © Brigitte Rossotti/MSF

Paris/New York, March 24, 2020—The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières  (MSF) is shocked by the statement made today by officials of the Iranian Ministry of Health (MoH) revoking its previous approval for MSF’s intervention to manage severe COVID-19 cases in Isfahan. MoH officials declared today that the country does not need additional treatment capacity for the management of severe cases.

“We are deeply surprised to learn that the approval for the deployment of our treatment unit has been revoked,” said Michel Olivier Lacharité, manager of MSF’s emergency programs, who is based in Paris. “The need for this intervention, and the authorizations needed to start it, were discussed and agreed with relevant Iranian authorities during the past weeks. Our teams were ready to start medical activities at the end of this week.”

Two cargo planes chartered by MSF, containing the materials needed to build a 50-bed inflatable treatment unit, landed in Tehran on Sunday and Monday, March 22 and 23. MSF also sent a nine-person international emergency team, including two intensive care unit (ICU) specialists, who were welcomed by the local health authorities when they arrived in Isfahan. The site allocated for the treatment unit within the grounds of Amin Hospital had already been prepared—the most time-consuming part of set up that involves leveling and preparing the ground and connecting to water and electricity.

MSF remains ready to re-deploy its emergency team and treatment unit elsewhere in Iran or to move them to other countries in the region, where support to address the massive needs caused by the coronavirus outbreak is urgently needed.

MSF is an international medical humanitarian organization running activities in over 70 countries. For its work in Iran, MSF does not receive funding from any government and relies solely on private donations