Vaccination of Afghan Refugees a Great...
World Health Organization (WHO) representative to Iran Jaffar Hussain has said it is a great achievement for Iran that the government is vaccinating every Afghan refugee going to the vaccination center even before receiving COVID vaccines from Humanitarian Buffer (COVAX). "There are three to four million Afghan refugees in the country and the government received 1.6 million doses from Humanitarian Buffer (COVAX) from COVID but the government is vaccinating every Afghan refugee going to the vaccination center even before receiving the buffer from their own resources and I witnessed it during my visits to Vaccination centers in Tehran, Kerman, and Mashhad," he said.
With the expansion of vaccination coverage, coronavirus mortality has declined to less than 100 in Iran and most provinces are out of the red (high-risk areas), he added, IRNA reported.
The vaccination program and health measures in Iran should be more complete and the situation should be better, he suggested. About one million people in Iran have received the third dose of the vaccine and we are trying to help the Pastu Covac and COVIRAN to complete documentation and receive the World Health Organization quality certificate so that it can be exported to low-income countries in the region, like Africa, he explained.
Iran is hosting the world's fourth-largest refugee community. The country has generously hosted approximately 1 million refugees for the past 30 years. The majority, which mainly came from Afghanistan and Iraq, live in urban areas. Approximately 31,000 of the most vulnerable refugees live in 20 settlements located throughout the country. Based on the latest statistics, over 3 million Afghans are living in Iran - some 780,000 Afghan refugees, over 2 million undocumented Afghans, and another 600,000 Afghan passport-holders with Iranian visas.
However, in light of the pandemic, all refugees, even those undocumented, benefited from access to free primary health services and free COVID-19 related testing, treatment, and hospitalization, just like Iranian nationals. The same happened for the vaccination when the country has generously considered refugees over the age of 75 for vaccination against coronavirus.
In Iran, UNHCR is seeking $16.2 million for its COVID-19 emergency, while requires an additional $98.7 million to support Iran in maintaining and sustaining its commendable inclusive refugee policies, under the umbrella of the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR).
Also the World Health Organization plans to boost support to the Islamic Republic of Iran in delivering health care services to the Afghan community, as well as the host population in the country, orchestrated in collaboration with UNHCR and other local partners and in light of the recent developments in neighbouring Afghanistan which has spurred a new influx of refugees into the country.
The decision was announced by WHO Representative to the Islamic Republic of Iran Dr Syed Jaffar Hussain who visited the southern Kerman province in close proximity to the Iran-Afghanistan border on Wednesday, 27 October.
The visit provided a fresh opportunity to check on health care facilities providing services to refugees in Kerman province. The refugee-exclusive vaccination centre in Sharafabad, a densely Afghan-populated district in Kerman, provides COVID-19 immunization services to 400–500 Afghan nationals on a daily basis regardless of their legal status. The visitors get a choice between the Chinese vaccine Sinopharm, and the Indian jab COVAXIN, donated by the Government of India. Refugees under 18-years of age are also inoculated using Sinopharm at this centre. Visitors also get vaccine-related health information in the form of brochures before and after vaccination.
“We see Iran as a centre of knowledge and evidence in the region, and need to work together to use this evidence in forming health policies,” said Dr Hussain in the meeting. “We look to strenghthen networking between the institute’s WHO Collaborating Center in Iran and global institutions and using your experience in building capacities for other countries.”