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Coronavirus: MSF intervenes in Iran

MSF “deeply surprised” that Iranian authorities put a stop to our COVID-19 response

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  • Iranian Ministry of Health officials announced on 24 March the rescindment of approval for MSF’s COVID-19 intervention in Isfahan.
  • Two cargo planes we chartered, carrying material to build an inflatable 50-bed treatment unit, had already landed in Tehran.
  • We are ready to re-deploy our emergency team and treatment capacities elsewhere in Iran or in other countries in the region where they are urgently needed.

Paris ─ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) expresses incomprehension following yesterday’s declarations by officials of the Iranian Ministry of Health stating that the approval for our intervention to manage severe COVID-19 cases in Isfahan, central Iran, has been rescinded. Ministry of Health officials said that the country does not need additional treatment capacity for the management of severe cases.

This announcement came after two cargo planes we chartered, containing all the material needed to build a 50-bed inflatable treatment unit, had already landed in Tehran on Sunday and Monday. A nine-person international team including two intensive care unit specialists, had already arrived in Isfahan where they were positively welcomed by the local health authorities. Preparation of the site had been finalised within the grounds of Amin Hospital.

“We are deeply surprised to learn that the approval for the deployment of our treatment unit has been revoked,” said Michel Olivier Lacharité, manager of the MSF emergency programmes in Paris.

“The need for this intervention and the authorisations needed to start it were discussed and agreed with relevant Iranian authorities during the past weeks,” said Lacharité. “Our teams were ready to start medical activities at the end of this week.”

We remain ready to re-deploy our emergency team and treatment capacities elsewhere in Iran, or to quickly move them to other countries in the region, where they are urgently needed to face the massive needs caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

For our deployment in Iran, we chose to rely solely on private donations and we do not receive funding from any government.

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Project Update 24 September 2020