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Islamic Republic of Iran tackles COVID-19 by enhancing primary health care


The Islamic Republic of Iran was one of the first countries in the world to experience a rapid progression of COVID-19. With a strong understanding of the vital role of communities and local engagement with health, the government designed its national COVID-19 response around its well-established primary health care (PHC) system.

“Each home one health post” - the national flagship PHC programme - was initiated by the Minister of Health and started shortly before the pandemic. It is now being rolled out as a major component to raise population awareness on keeping safe from COVID-19 and to improve the population’s access to services, with particular focus on people who are most at risk.

Across the country, comprehensive health centres provide the first point of care for people. This PHC network in urban and rural areas has provided essential health services and a strong response to COVID-19 using triage to reduce the load and burden on hospitals.

PHC staff follow up on suspected cases in the communities by phone on a routine basis, including the most vulnerable people. All PHC workers follow national protocols on home care, including midwives and community health workers who provide remote care and counselling to pregnant mothers.

WHO support to strengthen primary health care

The UHC Partnership has been supporting the WHO country office in the Islamic Republic of Iran since early 2020 to build on or scale up ongoing priority activities that need more resources. It has assisted the Ministry of Health and Medical Education in piloting and scaling up a PHC measurement and improvement model, which identifies areas requiring support for a more efficient and effective response to COVID-19.

The COVID-19 outbreak and current economic situation led the Ministry to increase the efficiency of the health system and to reduce costs and wastage. The UHC Partnership, in collaboration with Radboud University and the Medical Center in the Netherlands, also carried out a consultation to use an evidence-based process to develop a “UHC health insurance benefit package” that would expand coverage and enhance the population’s access to quality health care without leading them to experience financial hardship.  This process is used for rational, transparent, and fair decisions on the public reimbursement of health interventions.

The UHC Partnership assists 115 countries in accelerating progress to achieve UHC through funding provided by the European Union (EU), the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Irish Aid, the Government of Japan, the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the United Kingdom - Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and Belgium.

Health at home

The Islamic Republic of Iran‘s response using a strong PHC approach is bringing services closer to communities and demonstrates that a well-functioning, resilient health system based on PHC is the bedrock for progress towards the interrelated goals of UHC and health security.


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