Medical costs annually force 700,000 of Iranians below poverty level

Baku, Azerbaijan, Aug. 18

By Umid Niayesh - Trend:

Iran's Minister of health, Hassan Qazizadeh Hashemi says that every year over 700,000 Iranians are dropping below the poverty line due to medical expenses.

Qazizadeh Hashemi also criticized the lack of unique policies in the country's health sector, saying it negatively affect the healthcare system, Iran's Khorasan newspaper reported on Aug. 18.

"If we want a breakthrough in the healthcare system, the health services should be integrated," the minister said, adding currently each organization has established a separate "health ministry" for itself, running independent health services.

Qazizadeh Hashemi also underlined that the health issue is a priority in the administration of President Hassan Rouhani.

The minister said back in September that at least 500 trillion rials (about $19 billion based on the U.S. dollar's official exchange rate of 26,500 rials) of the health sector budget was spent during administration of ex-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the Mehr housing project.

Large amounts of money which should have been spent on the health sector, were spent on the Mehr housing project, and this issue caused many problems in the healthcare system, Hashemi said back then.

The minister underscored that 56 percent of the country's hospitals are worn-out, there is severe shortage of nurses and beds, adding that 50 trillion rials of the subsidy reform plan revenues which should have been allocated to the health sector in the past two years have not been allocated so far.

Iran experiences certain difficulties with drug shortages in the country largely because of international sanctions imposed on Iran due to its disputed nuclear program.

Despite the fact that sanctions do not directly target medical supplies and food, many companies refuse to deal with Iran fearing the impact of sanctions.

Due to these western led sanctions, only a handful of international banks are willing to transfer currencies on behalf of Iran to purchase medicine which is leading to a shortage of imported drugs.

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