Iran to Use East Mediterranean WHO Conference to Ease Sanction
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iran’s Health Minister Seyed Hassan Hashemi said on Sunday he was going to use the capacities of Oman 60th Eastern Mediterranean Health Ministers Conference for easing the US-led sanctions which have hugely restricted the country's ability to medicines and medical equipment.
The Iranian Health minister, who is in Oman to attend the conference, said that in addition to elaborating on the negative effects of the sanctions on the country’s health sector, and particularly medicine provision, his address would be focused on Iran’s success in uprooting polio in recent years and other basic measures the country has taken to improve public health standards.
The 60th Session of the Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean Health Ministers started on Sunday October 27 and will run through October 30.
The meeting will address a range of important health issues representing priorities for the 22 countries of the Region. Functioning as WHO’s governing body at the regional level, the Regional Committee consists of representatives of all member states of the eastern Mediterranean region.
Participating in the discussions are health ministers, representatives of national, regional and international organizations and agencies concerned with health, as well as experts from the WHO Headquarters and the Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean region.
Over the past two years, Iran has been under tough, comprehensive US-led sanctions against the country which target oil exports, shipping, airlines, petrochemical and automotive industries, banking system and currency, and many other areas which have a direct bearing on the lives of people.
Although food and medicines have been exempted from western sanctions, these countries have devised a regime for their sanctions that severely restricts Iran's ability to access food and medicines.
Finding medicines in the international markets is not the toughest part of the problem. The problem starts later.
The banking sanctions mean that no foreign bank is willing to accept and process payments by Iranian companies or banks for the purchase of medicines.
The second problem is transporting food and drugs to Iran as western shipping companies are prohibited from doing business with Iran, and Iranian ships cannot dock at ports of those countries.
In a report dated August 22, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the sanctions have a "significant" effect on Iranian people and that due to the payment problems some medical companies have stopped exporting medicine to Iran, leading to a reported shortage of drugs used to treat various illnesses, including cancer, heart and respiratory conditions and multiple sclerosis.
"Even companies that have obtained the requisite license to import food and medicine are facing difficulties in finding third-country banks to process the transactions," he said.