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Background: 2013

This is an extract from our latest Activity Report, looking back on our work in the previous year.

Rates of drug addiction in Iran remain high, yet many addicts have difficulty accessing the medical and psychological care they need.

The Iranian authorities have recognised that drug addiction and HIV infection are a growing public health concern, and have taken significant steps to initiate harm reduction and HIV/AIDS prevention among injected-drug users.

However, the broad medical needs of high-risk groups remain acute, especially in Tehran, where drug users, sex workers and street children are stigmatised and are therefore unable to access the general health system.

In Darvazeh Ghar, one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Tehran, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) continued to run a health centre dedicated to women and children under five who are excluded from healthcare, including undocumented refugees.

Together with Iranian authorities and local organisations, MSF offered free, basic healthcare, including medical consultations for women and children, gynaecological care, family planning and postnatal care.

A mental health programme was started in September, with treatment and support provided by a psychiatrist and a psychologist.

Iran’s Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants’ Affairs estimates that the country hosts 850,000 refugees, most of them Afghans. While registered refugees are granted private health insurance, those who are undocumented have limited access to healthcare.

At the end of 2013, MSF had 30 staff in Iran. MSF has worked in the country since 1990.

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