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Iran Healthcare
 
 
 

Healthcare in Iran and medical sector's market value was almost US$240 billion in 2002 and is forecasted to rise to US$310 billion by 2007. With a population of almost 70 million, Iran is one of the most populous countries in the Middle East. The country faces the common problem of other young demographic nations in the region, which is keeping pace with growth of an already huge demand for various public services. 50% of Iran's population are currently under 20 years old. Soon they will be old enough to start new families, which will boost the population growth rate and subsequently the need for public health infrastructures and services.

The World Health Organisation in the last report on health systems ranks Iran's performance on health level 58th, and its overall health system performance 93rd among the world's nations. The health status of Iranians has improved over the last two decades. Iran has been able to extend public health preventive services through the establishment of an extensive Primary Health Care Network. As a result child and maternal mortality rates have fallen significantly, and life expectancy at birth has risen remarkably. Infant (IMR) and under-five (U5MR) mortality have decreased to 28.6 and 35.6 per 1,000 live births respectively in 2000, compared to an IMR of 122 per 1,000 and a U5MR of 191 per 1,000 in 1970. Immunisation of children is accessible to most of the urban and rural population.

The constitution entitles Iranians to basic healthcare, and most receive subsidised prescription drugs and vaccination programs. An extensive network of public clinics offers basic care at low cost, and general and specialty hospitals operated by the Ministry of Health and Medical Education (MOHME) provide higher levels of care. In most large cities, well-to-do persons use private clinics and hospitals that charge high fees. About 73% of all Iranian workers have social security coverage.

Iran has been very successful in training/educating the necessary human resources for its health system. The system of almost 30 years ago where the country was facing a shortage of all kinds of skilled personnel in the health and medical sector has been completely changed into one in which the necessary professionals now completely suffice the country's needs. There were 0.5-1.1 physicians per 1000 population in 2004 according to various estimates (about 46% of physicians were women).

Although overall improvements have been achieved in all health areas since the 1979 revolution, the present challenging economic conditions of the country, combined with rapid advances in medical technology and information technology, individuals' expectations and the young demographic of the population will undoubtedly challenge the sustainability of past improving trends. Moreover there is a considerable variation in the human development index and the human poverty index across different provinces in the country.

Today the largest healthcare delivery network is owned and run by the Ministry of Health and Medical Education (MOHME) through its network of health establishments and medical schools in the country. MOHME is in charge of provision of healthcare services through its network, medical insurance, medical education, supervision and regulation of the healthcare system in the country, policymaking, production and distribution of pharmaceuticals, and research and development. Additionally, there are other parallel organisations such as Medical Services Insurance Organisations (MSIO) that have been established to act as a relief foundation as well as an insurance firm.

According to the last census that Statistical Centre of Iran undertook in 2003, Iran possesses 730 medical establishments (eg. hospitals, clinics) with a total of 110,797 beds, of which 488 (77,300 beds) are directly affiliated and run by the MOHME and 120 (11,301 beds) owned by the private sector and the rest belong to other organisations, such as the Social Security Organisation of Iran (SSO). There were about seven nurses and 17 hospital beds per 10,000 population.

An elaborate system of health network has been established which has ensured provision of Primary Health Care (PHC) to the vast majority of public. However, access and availability of health care continues to be somewhat limited in lesser developed provinces where the health indices are also lower as compared to national averages. The country is in an epidemiologic transition and faces double burden of the diseases. In the early 2000s the main natural causes of death have been cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Iran has a rather developed pharmaceutical production capability, however, the country still relies on imports for raw materials and many specialised drugs.

Iran's Ministry of Health and Medical Education (MOHME) has a mission to provide access to sufficient quantities of safe, effective and high quality medicines that are affordable for the entire population. Since the 1979 revolution, Iran has adopted a full generic-based National Drug Policy (NDP), with local production of essential drugs and vaccines as one of the main goals.

Currently 55 pharmaceutical companies in Iran produce more than 96% (quantitatively) of medicines on the market, worth US$1.2 billion annually. Although over 85% of the population use an insurance system to reimburse their drug expenses, the government heavily subsidises pharmaceutical production/importation in order to increase affordability of medicines. The regulatory environment of the country is rather strict on the import of drugs and pharmaceuticals towards companies that intend to enter into the market for the first time.

 

 
 


 



 


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