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Visit of a multidisciplinary COVID-19 support team to Iran (19 November - 7 December 2021)

A visit of a multidisciplinary COVID-19 support team to Iran took place from 19 November to 7 December 2021. It followed the visit of an Iranian delegation to the RKI in June 2021, during which common interests and areas of work were already touched upon, including the COVID-19 situation, vaccination, syndromic surveillance and containment scouts. Iran has a similar size of population like Germany and was one of the first countries severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic; the country was hit by a severe third wave in August-September 2021. Public health care is free of charge, but sanctions make some areas of the pandemic response significantly more difficult, e.g. the procurement of materials and reagents for laboratory diagnostics.

RKI staff in exchange with Iranian healthcare workers. Source: RKIRKI staff in exchange with Iranian healthcare workers. Source: RKI

The aim of this RKI mission was an exchange of experts on the current situation and the national response to the ongoing pandemic. In addition, various institutions were visited to learn more about the Iranian public health system and to identify possible future joint activities and collaboration. In addition, the RKI supported an outbreak investigation course of the Pasteur Institute of Iran.

Meeting at Mofid Children's Hospital, Tehran. Source: RKIMeeting at Mofid Children's Hospital, Tehran. Source: RKI

The mission was divided into two groups: In the first week, the team had members from units 37 and 38 as well as ZIG1. Clinical support was provided by the Charité Berlin. Visits included the Country Office of the World Health Organization (WHO), various departments of the Ministry of Health (research, international cooperation, Center for Communicable Diseases Control (CDC), Department for Migrants and Refugees), the Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS), the Pediatric Infections Research Center/Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, various public health institutions (hospitals, health posts and centres, including at Isfahid International Airport), and the Pasteur Institute of Iran, which has developed a COVID-19 vaccine itself and is currently conducting studies on it. Topics included in particular infectious disease epidemiology and surveillance, contact tracing, clinical management, hygiene/IPC as well as the procedure and implementation of outbreak investigations.

RKI staff at the outbreak investigation workshop. Source: RKIRKI staff at the outbreak investigation workshop. Source: RKI

The second group, consisting of staff from ZIG1 and FG37, supported a joint outbreak investigation workshop (training of trainers) at the Research Centre for Emerging and Reemerging Infectious Diseases (part of the Pasteur Institute of Iran) in Akanlu, a small village in Hamadan province, five hours west of Tehran. During the workshop, representatives from WHO CO, WHO EMRO, CDC Iran, the Pasteur Institute of Iran, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences and the RKI gave presentations and shared their experiences in the areas of outbreak investigation and management.

Workshop at the Research Centre for Emerging and Reemerging Infectious Diseases, Akanlu. Source: © Pasteur Institute of IranWorkshop at the Research Centre for Emerging and Reemerging Infectious Diseases, Akanlu. Source: © Pasteur Institute of Iran

Date: 02.03.2022