Iranians are paying for US sanctions with their...
Iran was halting its nuclear program in exchange for international sanctions relief. But US President Donald Trump has walked away from the deal in May 2018. Despite repeated certifications that Iran was sticking to its end of the bargain, Trump unleashed several rounds of stinging sanctions on the country.
Officially, the sanctions exempt humanitarian goods, such as food, medicine and medicinal instruments. But in reality, shortages in essential goods have affected households across the country.
The right to health accepted as an essential human right and the world health organization (WHO) emphasizes to settle a right-based approach to health.
The sanctions before 2015 indirectly targeted Iran public health system and now the new sanctions have devastating effects on the health of many Iranians, notably patients suffered from cancer. Cancers are the third cause of death in Iran. Economic sanctions target the government general budget and decrease Iran currency value. So, cost of these diagnosis methods will increase too much that the public health insurance wouldn’t afford them.
According to CNN, because of sanctions, Iran's health sector is struggling to keep up with soaring prices of medications and medical instruments. European banks, fearing secondary US penalties, are reluctant to do business with Iranian companies even those not blacklisted by the US. Medical companies have had to resort to paying intermediaries exorbitant sums to secure needed supplies, including imported medicines and medical instruments which have more than tripled in value during Iran's rapidly dropping currency, health professionals explain.
"Sanctions is the first problem in our country and in our system. We can't transfer the money and make the preparations for surgery. It's a big problem for us," says Dr. Mohammad Hassan Bani Asad, managing director of the Gandhi Hotel Hospital. "We have the procedures, but we don't have the instruments. It is very difficult for patients and maybe leads to death of some patients."
Though most of Iran's medicines are domestically manufactured, much of the primary materials, many of them imported, are in short supply. And while the state provides universal healthcare, some of the treatment needed for critical cases cannot be covered by state insurance.
A US State Department spokesperson has told that US sanctions have exempted medical goods. "The United States maintains broad authorizations that allow for the sale of agricultural commodities, food, medicine, and medical devices by US persons or from the United States to Iran,"
A middle-aged man suffering from lung cancer writhes and squirms on his hospital bed as Dr. Behrouz Emami checks on him. His eyes bulge as he gasps for air through an oxygen mask. The cancer has metastasized to the man's brain, Emami explains. The doctor has recommended to the patient's family that he be sent to a private ward where he can spend his final days with his family.
But the family simply cannot afford it, says Emami. They must settle for daily visits of just one-hour a day at the government-funded ward. "The decisions of families are not made by their emotions. They decide based on their budget," explains Emami.
Patients and their families are doubly affected by plummeting purchasing power across the country. It's a situation, Emami says, that has made a lot of treatable cases lethal.
Even when families can afford medical equipment they often join long waiting lists. Cardiac pacemakers are in short supply in the country, and patients must abandon their regular lifestyles, and become admitted to hospitals where they are hooked up to a cardiac machine.
"It doesn't matter what Trump's sanctions do, I'll do whatever it takes to find her medication." Said Ali, father of a 5-year- old girl who has a rare genetic disease. He puts a hand on his chest, puffing up his skinny frame. "I'll even fly myself to get them for her. Whatever it takes."