With the objective of improving maternal health in Afghanistan and for Afghan refugees living in Iran, the United Nations Population Fund has started a project, funded jointly by the Iranian and Italian Government. The project is being implemented by the Iran University of Medical Sciences and aims at improving academic cooperation on midwifery education between Afghanistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). In addition, the project will improve maternal health for Afghan refugees in IRI by establishing an Afghan-friendly maternity ward in Shahid Akbar Abadi hospital. The hospital will also serve as a training ground for Afghan refugee women, who are currently being trained as midwives at associate and master-level.
On 14 February 2017, Dr. Leila Joudane, UNFPA Representative in the Islamic Republic of Iran, together with the Ambassador of Afghanistan, visited Shahid Akbarabadi Hospital in South of Tehran. The hospital, which was built over 70 years ago, is a third-level teaching hospital with 350 beds and 247 nursing and midwifery staff, and is affiliated to the Iran Medical University. It provides prenatal care to both low-risk and high-risk pregnant women, and also has prenatal training classes. The hospital oversees approximately 12,000 deliveries per year, out of which around 25 percent are in Afghan mothers.
Shahid Akbarabadi Hospital has a no-rejection policy, and admits all women who seek its services, regardless of their nationality and residence status. Approximately 17% of the patients who referred to this hospital in 2016 have been Afghan patients. It is noteworthy that 57% of patients that have received free (subsidized) services during the last year were Afghans.
Dr. Joudane visited the outpatient clinic, the labour ward, the LDR (Labor, Delivery and Recovery), the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and the sections of the hospital that were renovated with project funds. She held discussions with staff of the hospital, as well as with Afghan patients.