Unilateral sanctions against Iran targeting medicine: Health minister

Iran’s Minister of Health, Treatment and Medical Education Saeed Namaki says the unilateral sanctions imposed on the country have targeted medicine and medical equipment needed by the nation, particularly at the time of the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

Addressing a special session of the United Nations General Assembly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic via a video conference, Namaki said it was very crucial for everyone to have timely, cost-effective and equitable access to diagnostic, medical equipment, medicines and vaccines with no discrimination, sanctions or unjustifiable prioritization.

Pointing to the US economic terrorism against the Iranian nation, he said, “The unilateral coercive measures imposed by the government of the United States have negatively affected the process of combating the pandemic in my country.”

“The unilateral illegal measures hamper the easy access of the people to basic medical needs and, therefore, endanger the health of Iranian citizens,” he added.

He emphasized that tight restrictions on foreign exchange resources have also affected the supplement of medicine and health commodities.

Namaki said the national committee to manage the nationwide fight against the pandemic was formed since the outbreak of the COVID-19 in Iran to employ all the country’s capacities and to adopt strict public health measures in an attempt to curb the disease.

Despite all restrictions due to the sanctions, he added, the Iranian government has provided special financial packages to the poor and the marginalized population, and taken economic measures to support businesses. The government, the minister said, has implemented testing and treatment coverage programs for some 3.5 million legal and illegal Afghan refugees.

“We have taken additional environmental health measures at our borders with neighboring countries according to IHR-2005 (the International Health Regulations 2005) which requires substantial support by member states to maintain normal trade.”

Namaki emphasized that all governments and international agencies should put global preparedness and emergency response top on their agenda for the decades to come, stressing the importance of strengthening information technology infrastructure to provide more reliable data and prepare the ground for telemedicine and tele-education in the new era.

“I would like to emphasize the vital importance of global solidarity and international cooperation with full support for the WHO (World Health Organization) as a unique platform for global health activities in order to overcome this pandemic.”

Iran, one of the countries hit hardest by the outbreak, reported its first cases of the fast-spreading disease in late February, about one month after the virus first showed up in China.

The country is currently grappling with a new wave of the outbreak as the number of infections and the death toll keep soaring and breaking records in many cities and provinces.