In an interview with ISNA, as translated by IFP, Mohammad Mahdi Gouya, the director of the Centre for Communicable Disease Control of the Ministry of Health, voiced concern over the new wave of immigrants to the country.
He said, “Since last year, we’ve witnessed a new wave of immigration into the country.” Unlike in the past, when young, healthy immigrants would come here pursuing job opportunities, now they’re women and children, for the most part, who are in desperate need of healthcare services, and the responsibility sits upon us to control their vaccinations.
Noting that among all the immigration destinations throughout the world, not even one covers the vaccination program as comprehensively as Iran, Gouya added, “We have had to fill all these gaps in a very short time, which requires more manpower.”
According to him, around 1m people obtained vaccinations against measles last year, among which 200,000 were immigrants and refugees. Moreover, the Ministry of Health vaccinated immigrants and refugees born between the years 1988 and 1992 in four rounds against Hepatitis B.
“New immigrants mostly come from Pakistan and Afghanistan and at different intervals spread new diseases throughout the country.” He continued. “Sometimes we can curb the spread of a disease by vaccination, especially polio and measles, which are being eradicated in the country. In some cases, the disease passes on through food or drinking water. We need to prevent that.”
The director of the Centre for Communicable Disease Control of the Ministry of Health said some chronic diseases such as tuberculosis and multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) are a menace to the country and need special measures.
Health Services for Immigrants and Refugees Cost Iran IRR100bn Annually
Mohammad Mahdi Gouya pointed to the huge cost of providing health services to refugees and immigrants, saying, “Healthcare expenditure on immigrants in Iran stands at IRR100bn annually. The UNHCR allocates Iran only one quarter of the amount it spends on providing health services for refugees and immigrants. We expect the UNHCR to consider this issue on its agenda.”
The Director of the Centre for Communicable Disease Control of the Ministry of Health added, “The Islamic Republic of Iran provides incomparable health services to immigrants, which are far better than what they had in the countries they used to live in temporarily or permanently.”