Iranian health minister: Ex-President Ahmdinejad spent $20 billion health budget on Mehr housing project

Iran Materials 6 September 2013 15:03 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, Sep.6/ Trend F.Karimov/

At least 500 trillion rials (about $20 billion based on the U.S dollar's official exchange rate of 24,800 rials) of health sector budget has been spent during President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's administration in the Mehr housing project, the Fars News Agency quoted Iranian Health Minister Hassan Qazizadeh Hashemi as saying.

Large amounts of money which should have been spent on the health sector, were spent on the Mehr housing project. This issue has caused many problems in the healthcare system, he added.

The Mehr housing project was launched by former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, aimed at resolving the housing shortage problem. However many housing experts believe that the project failed to achieve its goals and led to a rise in home prices.

Due to the budget deficit, some of the health ministry employees have not received their salaries for 15 months and a large number of physicians have left their posts, he noted.

He also said 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.

Hashemi said that 56 per cent of the country's hospitals are worn-out. "We are facing a severe shortage of nurses and ICU beds," he added. "It takes at least six months to resolve medicine shortage problems."

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

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.

Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi, the health minister of Ahmadinejad's administration, had resigned from her post blaming the government for the health sector's problems.