Pregnancy among homeless women has emerged as a new challenge to the Health Ministry and the Tehran Municipality.
There is also a debate on whether they should undergo permanent contraception.
Health Minister Hassan Hashemi, ruled out such a proposal for homeless women, adopted in some countries, and said, “Instead of depriving women of their right to have children, we should support them,” through other means.
Majid Rezazadeh, head of Addiction Prevention Center of the State Welfare Organization, also questioned why addicted homeless women should be sterilized.
“We are planning to provide contraceptives to homeless women and high-risk drug users to postpone their pregnancy till such time that they feel they will be responsible mothers.”
As many are addicted to drugs they turn to petty crime, and refuse to visit health centers fearing legal consequences. Thus, homeless women are deprived of health and treatment services. Additionally, they face the possibility of being infected with HIV due to drug abuse.
There are 20,000 homeless people in Tehran, among whom 3,000 are women, according to the Tehran Municipality. They are elusive and stay hidden, particular after pregnancy. Often, they are unaware of being infected with HIV and their babies are at risk.
In many cases, delivery in unsanitary conditions can be risky for mother or baby or both, Fararu website reported.
The Health Ministry said last year (ended March 20) 62% of maternal deaths in the country were due to lack of prenatal care, and 5% of mothers lost their lives due to drug abuse.
At present, 12 universities of medical sciences are holding workshops and training students in counseling to address vulnerable women, drug users and their spouses and help prevent them from becoming infected by dangerous viral diseases and unprepared pregnancies, said Abbas Sedaghat, head of the AIDS task force at the Health Ministry.
Head of State Welfare Organization (SWO) Anoushiravan Mohseni Bandpei, recently announced the establishment of a drug rehabilitation center for addicted mothers and their children. The center is located in eastern part of Tehran.