Going mobile: using harm reduction centers to prevent the spread of COVID-19 outbreak in Iran

March 26, 2020

Click here to read the story in Farsi.

Iran is one of the hardest-hit countries worldwide by the coronavirus (COVID-19). The first case was reported on 19 February.

The world has to come together to address a global threat. Every country needs to act immediately to prepare, respond, and recover.

Drawing on previous experiences with other communicable diseases such as HIV, TB and Malaria, and available mobile facilities (9 cabins) and mobile vehicles (4 vans), UNDP and our enduring partner, the Welfare Organization (WO) joined forces to support government-led response efforts by conducting preventive and precautionary measure activities in harm reduction centers – specifically mobile centers – to prevent the spread of COVID-19 outbreak in Iran.

As a first step, the staff at the training centers were immediately trained on COVID-19 preventive measures by WO provincial authorities while the centers were adapted and equipped with cleaning PPEs and disinfectants such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizers, soap and alcohol pads. To create a safer environment, the centers are regularly washed and disinfected.

Beyond this, below is a list of services being provided by mentioned facilities and their dedicated staff to fight COVID-19 outbreak:

  • Distribution of personal protective equipment (PPEs) including masks, gloves and hand sanitizers in the hot spots.
  • Awareness raising programmes to enhance the knowledge of the clients on the virus and protective measures including distribution of educational materials.
  • Distribution of food packages such as warm meals and fruit packs to enhance the immune system of clients.
  • Body temperature checkups.
  • Corona screening by outreach teams.
  • Referral of suspected cases to medical centers.

These activities are being undertaken in the following 11 provinces of Iran, namely: Tehran, Alborz, Khuzestan, Kerman, Khorasan Razavi, Kermanshah, Bushehr, East Azerbaijan, West Azerbaijan, Lorestan and Hormozgan.

UNDP will continue to work and support the WO by providing additional 5 vans and 11 cabins as mobile facilities to enhance access to certain key vulnerable populations for provision of health and harm reduction services.

Following the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the above mentioned facilities which are procured by UNDP as the Principle Recipient of the Global Fund projects will be used to support the country to end the HIV epidemic by 2030 and strengthen resilience system for health as overall goal to achieve Universal Health Coverage.

As the country is fighting the pandemic, these available facilities are being used to prevent the spread of COVID-19 outbreak. UNDP is working closely with partners to ensure vulnerable groups are included in COVID-19 response.

Click here to read the story in Farsi.