Iranian health houses open the door to primary care.
Article Type: Brief article
Subject: Community health services (Public participation)
Community health services (Evaluation)
Pub Date: 11/01/2008
Publication: Name: Reproductive Health Matters Publisher: Reproductive Health Matters Audience: General Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Family and marriage; Health; Women's issues/gender studies Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2008 Reproductive Health Matters ISSN: 0968-8080
Issue: Date: Nov, 2008 Source Volume: 16 Source Issue: 32
Geographic: Geographic Scope: Iran Geographic Code: 7IRAN Iran
Accession Number: 192393433
Full Text: Working in pairs out of village-based facilities, Iran's trained community health workers, the behvarzan, provide basic health care to rural populations. Devised in 1981, the plan emphasised community participation and intersectoral cooperation. There was strong opposition at the time of its inception from health experts who thought the infrastructure too ambitious and a regression in health care, owing to the limited education of the behvarzan. Now more than 90% of Iran's rural population are covered by 30,000 community health workers in 17,000 health houses. Each health house serves approximately 1,500 people. Female health workers are responsible for child and maternal health, vaccinations, registrations and administering medicines. Male health workers mainly do activities outside the health house, such as follow-up visits, identifying patients, and sanitation and environmental projects. Behvarzan must have had 11 years of scholing plus two years of theoretical and practical training. They often come from the village they serve, and therefore know their patients as well as the local culture. The health houses refer patients to rural health centres, which cover 6,000-10,000 people and are responsible for elective and emergency case management, supporting the health houses, and supervising the behvarzan. (1)


(1.) Tavassoli M. Iranian health houses open the door to primary care. Bulletin of World Health Organization 2008;86(8):585-86.
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