In line with the UNHCR Global strategy for Public Health, UNHCR Iran works towards ensuring that refugees have access to health services in Iran which are equivalent to that of the host population. UNHCR Iran’s health programming is delivered within a public health and community development framework and focuses to increase access to primary health care while supporting secondary and tertiary health care.

UNHCR complements the efforts of the Ministry of Health and Medical Education (MoHME) in providing primary health care services to all refugees, including vaccinations, antenatal care, maternal and child health, and family planning. UNHCR activities also include the construction and rehabilitation of health posts located in both urban and rural areas, the provision of essential medicines, incentives for medical staff, and training for community health workers. In addition, UNHCR’s joint interventions with partners also include medical referral, harm reduction, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) referral and response, and Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR).

Health Insurance for Refugees

Iran is one of the few countries in the world to offer refugees health insurance. The Universal Public Health Insurance (UPHI) is a government-run initiative between BAFIA, UNHCR Iran and the Iran Health Insurance Organisation (IHIO) in close coordination with the Ministry of Health and Medical Education (MoHME).

UPHI offers all registered refugees the possibility to enrol and benefit from a comprehensive health insurance package similar to that available to Iranians. UPHI covers hospitalisation, para-clinical and out-patient services, including doctor’s visits, radiology, lab tests and medication costs incurred at any MoH-affiliated hospital/pharmacy.

Complementing the Government of Iran’s generous contribution, UNHCR’s support covers 100% of the premium costs for 110,000 of the most vulnerable refugees including those with Special Diseases[1] and their family members. The remaining refugee population enrols in exactly the same healthcare package by paying the full premium (approx. $11/month) in order to receive their booklet, which provides 12 months insurance coverage.

In addition to improving the healthcare of refugees, the insurance scheme offers potential direct and indirect protection dividends including reducing the risk of catastrophic out-of-pocket health expenditures and negative coping mechanisms related to economic vulnerability, such as withdrawing children from education. This government-run initiative is also a major development in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 3, ensuring a more inclusive society where no-one is left behind.

[1] Special Diseases include Haemophilia, Thalassemia, Renal Failure, Kidney Transplant, Multiple Sclerosis, as defined by Iranian MoH