25 March 2020

We are ready to deploy our emergency team and inflatable 50-bed facility elsewhere in Iran or to other countries where they are urgently needed.

International medical humanitarian organisation Doctors Without Borders (MSF) expresses its incomprehension following today’s declarations by officials of the Iranian Ministry of Health stating that the approval for MSF’s intervention to manage severe COVID-19 cases in Isfahan has been rescinded. Ministry of Health officials said that the country does not need additional treatment capacity for the management of severe cases.

This announcement comes after two cargo planes chartered by MSF, containing all the material needed to build a 50-bed inflatable treatment unit, had already landed in Tehran on Sunday and Monday. A nine-person international team, including two intensive care unit specialists, had already arrived in Isfahan where they were positively welcomed by the local health authorities. Preparation of the site had been finalized within the grounds of Amin Hospital.

MSF, Doctors Without Borders, COVID-19 response in Iran
MSF teams loading medical equipment including an inflatable hospital in Merignac airport on 21 March 2020 to be sent to Ispahan, Iran to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. 
Photo: Brigitte Rossotti/MSF

“We are deeply surprised to learn that the approval for the deployment of our treatment unit has been revoked,” said Michel Olivier Lacharité, manager of the MSF Emergency programmes in Paris. “The need for this intervention, and the authorisations needed to start it, were discussed and agreed with relevant Iranian authorities during the past weeks. Our teams were ready to start medical activities at the end of this week.”

MSF remains ready to re-deploy its emergency team and treatment capacities elsewhere in Iran or to quickly move them to other countries in the region, where they are urgently needed to face the massive needs caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.

MSF is an international medical humanitarian organisation that runs activities in over 70 countries. The organisation is not affiliated to the French or any other government. For its deployment in Iran, MSF has chosen to rely solely on private donations and does not receive funding from any government.