IRCS ready to vaccinate 3 million refugees, rare disease patients

June 6, 2021 - 16:35

TEHRAN – The Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) has announced readiness to vaccinate some three million refugees and people with special diseases against coronavirus if the required doses of the vaccine are provided.

“The necessary infrastructure and capacities are available to vaccinate refugees and patients of rare diseases, but we urgently need more vaccines,” Mansoureh Bagheri, deputy head of IRCS for International Affairs and Humanitarian Law, stated.

“Due to the sanctions, we are in a difficult situation and we are facing challenges in transferring funds, as well as providing medicine and medical equipment, especially during the epidemic. 

In fact, economic sanctions are a major challenge to receiving international aid on time and are slowing down the process of receiving humanitarian aid, she emphasized, adding, we require the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, to play a supportive role in providing vaccines.”

Pointing out that the IRCS’s volunteer population is at the forefront of tackling the pandemic, he stated that since the beginning of the new year (March 21), the Red Crescent Society, in coordination with relevant organizations, has screened passengers at air, sea and road borders.

So far, more than 350,000 passengers have been monitored with the participation of 471 operational forces at 28 borders nationwide, she added, IRNA reported on Sunday.

Some 1,952 IRCS’s volunteers have received the vaccine, and our goal is to inoculate more than 8,000 employees and 10,000 paramedics, she concluded.

On May 9, the Iranian Red Crescent Society asked the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to provide 2 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to be used for Afghan refugees.

UN appreciates Iran for vaccinating foreign nationals

On May 24, Indrika Ratwatte, Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said that Iran has generously considered refugees over the age of 75 for vaccination against coronavirus, appreciating Iran for over four decades of hosting refugees.

Living conditions of foreign nationals in Iran

At the end of 2018, Iran hosted close to one million refugees, making it the sixth-largest refugee host country in the world. The country was also the eighth largest refugee-hosting country in the world in 2019, hosting 951,142 Afghan refugees and 28,268 Iraqi refugees, according to the UNHCR.

One of the largest and most protracted urban refugee populations in the world is living in Iran; about 97 percent of refugees live in urban and semi-urban areas, while three percent are residing in 20 refugee resorts run by the UNHCR's main government counterpart.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, undocumented Afghans have access to free primary health services and similarly free COVID-19 related testing, treatment, and hospitalization, just like nationals.

Despite the challenges, Iran has continued to generously give refugees access to education and health services. Iran is one of the handfuls of countries in the world that offer refugees the option to enroll in national health insurance for essential secondary and tertiary public health services in the same way as Iranian nationals.

The national insurance scheme allows for free COVID-19 treatment and hospitalization. It also subsidizes the cost of surgeries, dialysis, radiology, laboratory tests, outpatient care, and more.

70,000 rare disease patients vaccinated

Some 70,000 patients of rare diseases have received the COVID-19 vaccine so far, Mehdi Shadnoush, head of the transplant management and treatment center of the Ministry of Health, said on May 23.

Rare diseases include peritoneal dialysis, hemophilia, thalassemia, Multiple sclerosis (MS), Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), Epidermolysis bullosa (EB), Cystic fibrosis (CF), Mucopolysaccharidosis type I (MPS I), autism, organ transplantation, and tissue therapy, patients with primary immunodeficiency disease (PID).

Patients with rare diseases often face a long journey from diagnosis to treatment. There are 540,000 patients in the country.

According to the statistics published in 2019, the number of rare diseases identified in Iran has reached 332 types of diseases.


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