Mr. Norbert Hauser the Chair of the Board of the Global Fund together with some participants of 2nd EMRC technical Meeting had a field vist of Tehran's West Health Center (THWC) where they were welcomed by Dr. Golmohammadi the Director of Communicatble Disease Department of Iran University of Medical Sciences (IUMS) which covers the westward zones as one of the 3 Med universities in metropolitan Tehran. According to Dr. Haleh Ahmadnia, the Director of TWHC provides HIV testing and counseling integrated with other health and primary care services for 4 ditricts in Tehran Metropolitan area serving a population of more than 800,000. This health center is one of the 5 in Tehran as the capital of Iran which has a resident population of 9 million.
As Ms. Azam Valipour and Dr. Vartanian explained, a well equipped lab is placed within this center which provides ELISA, CD4 Counting, RT-PCR, Viral Load test covering some nearby provinces as well. There are 32 provinces in Iran while there are only 11 such labs in the country which are regularly assessed for the quality of services by a central Reference Laboratory at the Ministry of Health & Medical Education. The first line of HIV testing is actually at community level in Drop in Centers, some NGOs and Health Posts which provide Rapid Testing. The second line labs are located at Urban Health Centers (district or city related) who provide ELISA or Western Blot in addition to rapid testing, and these 11 Labs actually are the third line.
These Referal Lab has been eqipped mainly by the MoHME and partly by The Global Fund (for GeneXpert and Molecular Biology Kits) as Dr. Bokharayi, the lab supervisor, explained.
After visiting the lab building the team went to visit the Behavioural Diseases Center or so-called Triangular Clinic which provides counseling, testing, care, treatment and support for Sexually Transmited Diseases, HIV and drug use. This center is also embedded within the TWHC and includes a Positive Club which privides social support for PLWHA.
Mr. Hauser and other participants well appreciated the integration of HIV care and prevention within the primary health system and also with social support mechanisms through working with the municipality and its neibourhood cultural centers, involvment of the community volunteers (as health communicators and health messengers). They also appreciated integration of TB and HIV programs at service delivery and were interested in the guidlines available at national and district level for comprehensive health services.