For refugees in Iran, health plan brings care and comfort

TEHRAN, Islamic Republic of Iran, Dec 17 (UNHCR) — As an Afghan refugee and an only son, Ajab Khan Yaghoubi’s entire family relies on him to survive. But the 22-year-old suffers from hemophilia, a genetic illness which until recently left him with painful bleeding, expensive medical bills and an uncertain future.

Now, thanks to an unprecedented initiative from the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran that was announced last month and will eventually bring nearly a million refugees within the national healthcare safety net, he can once again live life to the full.

Ajab is part of the second generation of Afghan refugees whose parents fled to neighbouring Iran following the Soviet invasion in 1979. He and his four sisters were born and raised in the Saveh settlement, 165 kilometres southwest of Tehran, where they still live today.


With hemophilia affecting many in Ajab’s family, heavy medical expenses made life in exile harder than ever. “I felt hopeless,” Ajab recalls, teary-eyed. “I always wanted to contribute to the society that I am living in and to the livelihood of my family. Every time I wanted to get my medication, I had to see if I could borrow money from friends and relatives.”

It was the Universal Public Health Insurance (UPHI) scheme, also known as Salamat Health Insurance, that eventually came to Ajab’s aid. The largescale initiative is based on an agreement between UNHCR, the Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants Affairs (BAFIA) of the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Health, and the Iran Health Insurance Organisation (Salamat).

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