By Jubin Katiraie
Definition of health
Health underlies the economic activities and social progress of a nation. The health of society depends on the observance of health principles.
A healthy society can defend its interests and rights. Health is the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and raising the level of health and human ability. If the members of a society are healthy, it is possible to create a healthy and capable society as a whole.
Also, justice in public health is one of the important parameters in public health. On this subject, Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), of which Iran is a signatory, states:
- The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
- The steps to be taken by the States Parties to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include those necessary for:
(a) The provision for the reduction of the stillbirth-rate and of infant mortality and for the healthy development of the child;
(b) The improvement of all aspects of environmental and industrial hygiene;
(c) The prevention, treatment, and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational and other diseases;
(d) The creation of conditions which would assure to all medical service and medical attention in the event of sickness.
Now that we have the international definition of health, let’s look at the situation of health in Iran, which is mainly the victim of the regime’s irresponsibility and corruption and the looting of the people’s wealth. While the statistics are not up to date and belong to the past, but we will use them to show why the situation of the coronavirus pandemic in Iran has become so disastrous.
“From the very beginning, this system purified much specialized medical personnel in Iran for political reasons. Also, many Iranian medical professionals and geniuses fled the country for political or economic reasons. Iran ranks second in the world in brain drain, with about 150,000 to 180,000 educated migrating each year.” (State-run news agency YJC, 13 August 2019)
“According to the head of the country's medical organization, more than 10,000 young doctors have emigrated from Iran, due to their young age and the number of medical graduates in Iran, this is a time period less than five years.” (ISNA, 16 January 2017)
The per capita number of physicians in Iran is much lower than the global standard, so much that the countries such as Palestine and Syria that are involved in a war, are in a better condition in the field of per capita number of physicians than Iran.” (Javan Online, 30 June 2019)
Instead of 5 doctors, we have 1.6 doctors per thousand people
The Deputy Minister of Health says about the situation of the number of doctors in the country, citing statistics and comparing these statistics with global statistics:
“Currently, the number of general practitioners, specialists, and dentists in the country is 1.6 per 1000 people. This is while, our base need in this field is 2.5 doctors per 1000 people, and even many countries in the world have a figure of 3.5 to 5 doctors per 1000 people in this field.” (Javan Online, 30 June 2019)
Another state-run media wrote about the number of doctors in Iran:
“Unfortunately, the society in our country has become such that everyone thinks that the number of our doctors is higher than the world standard or at least the world standard. But the truth is something else. According to the global standard, there should be 5.3 physicians per 1000 people. In Iran, the figure is about 1.6, with Iran ranking 18th out of 24 countries in the Middle East, and the shortage of physicians, especially specialists, has caused serious problems, especially in far cities from the centers and villages.
“It is interesting to know that Qatar has 8.7 doctors per 1000 people or Greece has 2.6 doctors per 1000 people. Now compare this with Iran, which has only 1.6 doctors per 1000 people. It is even more unfortunate when the Ministry of Health and Medical Education does little to increase the number of physicians by at least threefold, and one can even guess (and hoping this conjecture is false) that the ministry would like to limit the number of physicians so that the medical market do not fall. (ALEF website, 8 April 2019)
Iran ranked 112 in terms of health justice indicators
“In 2000, Iran ranked 112th out of 190 countries in terms of health justice indicators.” (Bartarinha website, 20 September 2016)
One of the indicators of low health and wellness is the health of public environments. Former Minister of Health Hassan Hashemi Nejad in 2015, after visiting several prisons in Iran, described the health situation in prisons as deplorable and said that diseases such as tuberculosis, AIDS and infectious diseases are rampant in prisons.
Treatment costs in Iran
Medical and treatment costs in Iran are among the highest costs of an Iranian family. According to the Central Bank, the cost of treatment has increased by 145 percent between 2005 and 2011 alone. The Minister of Health announced that 3 million people fall below the poverty line every year due to medical costs. Iran's per capita health budget is one-twelfth of the international average.
'About eight million people do not have health insurance,' said Taher Mohabati, head of the Health Insurance Organization. (Chabak Online, 19 October 2018)
In an interview with ISNA, Hadi Abui, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Trade Unions, acknowledged that about 3 million workers do not have any insurance. (Bimeh Baran website, 7 October 2019)
According to Iraj Haririchi, deputy director-general of the Ministry of Health, at most 5 percent of people are now able to go to a private hospital with their own money, 15 percent are able to go to these centers with the help of supplementary insurance, and about 80% of people never get to these centers.
The regime’s Parliamentary Research Center in a report said: “The share of treatment costs from the people’s pockets in Iran is 52.2 percent. This number in Turkey is 15 percent, in Kuwait 15.7 percent, and Qatar 8.4 percent.”
A small example of the regime’s theft from the health share of the Iranian people
Among the budget figures, the budget allocated to health has been the lowest ever. This year, the regime’s government claimed that the credit allocated to the Ministry of Health had grown by about 15 percent. This is despite the fact that the total budget for the year 2020-2021 is illusory and far away from the regime’s incomes in 2020 without any bases.
Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi regime’s former Minister of Health and Medical Education said in 2018: “For two years, the poor people were taken from one hall to another in the snow, rain, and heat, These people were camping on the street and finally we took 35 trillion tomans from the pockets of the people and did not say it to them, and with proud we said that we have to manage the issue.”
He added: “The total amount of money spent on the Health Reform Plan in the Eleventh and Twelfth Governments, according to friends in the Plan and Budget Organization, was 16,400 billion tomans, and the numbers that they say are untrue.”
Coronavirus treatment costs
Following the outbreak of the coronavirus in Iran, the government claimed that they do not charge patients for the treatment of coronavirus, while local reports prove otherwise. A text message sent to the YJC news agency states:
“Hi. In the city of Golpayegan in Isfahan province, medical centers are demanding high costs for coronavirus testing, and this has led to the non-referral of suspicious citizens, and in practice, it has caused to the spread of the disease. Please if the testing and treating of this disease are free to follow up, and if it's not free, let us know in the news so that low-income people know they have to tolerate their illness.” (YJC, 24 March 2020)
The deplorable situation of Iran's health in the Coronavirus Pandemic
The situation is so critical that the regime’s five previous health ministers, in a letter to the regime president Hassan Rouhani on 19 March 2020, acknowledged that the disease is on the rise across the country and warned against the consequences of continuing the regime's current policy on the coronavirus outbreak.
They said: “In the last month, the trend of the disease and its consequences are still rising and increasing, and in no region, there has been a decreasing trend.”
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has stated that the coronavirus death toll in Iran is about five times higher than the regime’s official figures.