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Friday, 25 November 2011 12:50

Iran – a short visit

I always knew my short trip to Iran would be interesting and important – but did not expect it to be quite exciting as it turned out.

Our flight from London to Tehran could not land as a sudden swell of fog closed the airport. After some optimistic circling we retreated to Yerevan in Armenia where we found ourselves at 6am filling in applications for 24 hour visas, and eventually getting to a hotel for some rest. 18 hours later, we were heading back to the airport but had to sit at the roadside for an hour while our coach driver and the driver of the car which our coach had ‘contacted’, had a long loud argument about  whose fault the collision had been... you did not need to understand any Armenian to know they were not agreeing!


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Eventually we transferred to another coach, and got on to a night flight back to a fog-free Tehran, and then a 7 hour car drive through the night to get me to the Iranian Congress of Nephrology in Yazd in time for me to give my first talk. Only 48 hours later, everything was reversed to get us back to Tehran for the flight back to the UK.

But what a 48 hours – the minor travel inconveniences were well worth it.  Firstly, because we had the opportunity to view some wonderful and ancient architecture and learn much about the historic Persian and Zoroastrian cultures in Yazd and nearby Meybot.  Secondly, because of the warm hospitality of our Iranian friends and colleagues.  But thirdly, and best, because we saw the growing excellence of nephrology in Iran despite the political and economic difficulties the country faces.

Because of international sanctions, ISN cannot directly support ISN Global Outreach Programs in Iran; a frustration which we are hopeful will soon be resolved if ISN is successful in its recent application for a licence from the U.S. Office of Federal Asset Control allowing us  to start GO programs in Iran.  Despite this block over a decade, the Iranian Society of Nephrology has loyally continued to hold a collective membership of ISN for all its members, for which ISN is very grateful.

The leaders of Iranian nephrology can be proud of their growing achievements: the number of nephrologists is steadily increasing,  government funded renal replacement therapy is available for all who need it, and  deceased donor transplantation is steadily growing.  Screening programs for CKD are being implemented with government support. Successful advocacy by nephrologists means that the Iranian health minister was one of those who wrote to WHO in support of ISN’s successful call for increased emphasis on CKD in the political declaration which followed the UN High Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Disease in September 2011.

Things are definitely on the move in Iranian nephrology, and hopefully ISN will soon be able to play its part more fully in that growth.

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