Iran health sector gets another $260 mln in rescue over pandemic

Press TV – The Iranian government has earmarked some $260 million to the country’s health sector in a fresh attempt to help hospitals and care homes cope with the new coronavirus pandemic.

Iranian deputy president for budgeting said on Wednesday that the new lifeline had been made possible by drawing from Iran’s sovereign wealth fund.

Mohammad Bagher Nobakht said that the money will be spent by Iran’s health ministry on purchase of drugs, diagnostic tools and medical equipment needed in hospitals to treat patients suffering from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Nobakhat said around a third of the rescue package, some 15 trillion rials, will be earmarked to hospitals that are exclusively treating the COVID-19 patients.

The official said another 3 trillion rials will go to bonuses for health care staff confronting the pandemic in Iran.

Nobakht said the government had also used a first installment of the €1-billion rescue package provided by National Development Fund of Iran to pay for benefits to workers who had lost their jobs because of the pandemic.

He said government’s aid to benefit funds to help them cope with the impacts of the pandemic would amount to 15 trillion rials with another payment that is planned for next week.

Iran has been able to fund various schemes to fight the COVID-19 pandemic despite a series of American sanctions that have strained government finances.

Washington has even attempted to block a request by Iran to the International Monetary Fund for an emergency loan that the country needs to contain the pandemic.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Iran has topped 101,650. Some 81,587 people have recovered from the disease since it was spotted in the country on February 19 while a total of 6,418 have died, according to figures by the Iranian health ministry published on Wednesday.