Medical expenses annually push 7.5 per cent of Iranians below poverty line

Iran Materials 29 November 2013 16:33 (UTC +04:00)

Baku, Azerbaijan, Nov. 29

By Rahim Zamanov - Trend:

Medical expenses in Iran are high and each year, 7.5 per cent of the people fall under the poverty line because of the high expenses, Iran's Medical Council head Alireza Zali said on November 29.

"The figure is more alarming with regard to citizens of the capital, Tehran," the Mehr News Agency quoted Zali as saying.

"Medical expenses annually push 13 per cent of those people under the poverty line," he explained.

He went on to note that charity organisations can play an important role in lowering people's medical expenses.

Iran's Minister of Health, Hassan Qazizadeh Hashemi said in October that it is a priority for the ministry to keep the drug market stable until the end of the current solar year (March 20, 2014).

"If we can get the necessary amount of money for insurance from the state budget, then tariffs in governmental hospitals would change and income increase," he said.

Hashemi noted that currently due to economic situation in Iran, about 15,000 doctors in the country are busy doing other work instead of their direct duties. Therefore he said, there is a need to have 2000 more doctors and nurses in hospitals.

Hashemi said back in September that at least 500 trillion rials, about $20 billion based on the U.S dollar's official exchange rate of 24,800 rials of the health sector budget has been spent during President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's administration in 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.

He also said that due to the budget deficit, some health ministry employees have not received their salaries for 15 months and a large number of physicians have left their posts.

The minister underscored that that 56 per cent 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 so far been allocated.

He also said it would take at least six months to resolve the medicine related problems in Iran.

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 in turn is leading to a shortage of imported drugs.