News ID: 261959
Published: 0227 GMT November 23, 2019

Tehran raps US for obstructing Iran’s medicine import

Tehran raps US for obstructing Iran’s medicine import

Iran's Vice President and Head of the Plan and Budget Organization Mohammad Baqer Nobakht lashed out at Washington’s economic terrorism against his country, reminding that Tehran is facing hardships to import needed food and medication at the same time that it is banned from selling oil.

Nobakht said on Saturday that the US have created obstacles for import of food and medicines, adding that they have attempted to prevent export of a single barrel of oil as well, Fars News Agency reported.

The Iranian official said that the enemies have intensified sanctions against Iran.

Earlier this month, it was announced by an NGO that Iranian children suffering from epidermolysis bullosa (EB) are the new victims of inhumane US sanctions against Tehran, as Washington’s bans are preventing a Swedish supplier from sending protective bandages to the country.

Hamidreza Hashemi-Golpayegani, the head of the NGO that helps such patients, said on November 10 that at least 15 Iranian children with EB have died since the US launched its new sanctions on Iran in August.

Often known as butterfly children because their skin is as fragile as the wings of a butterfly, EB patients need special care. Even mild frictions or bumps cause severe blistering of the skin which is very painful.

The trade of humanitarian goods, such as food, medicine and medical devices, is on paper allowed by the US, still European companies refuse to do business with Iran, fearing secondary American sanctions.

Since the re-imposition of sanctions, Swedish medical products firm Molnlycke Health Care has stopped delivering Mepilex dressings which are trusted around the world to treat a wide range of chronic and acute wounds, including in EB patients, Iranian media reports say.

Human Rights Watch said in October that American sanctions against Iran have drastically constrained the country’s ability to pay for humanitarian imports and are threatening the health rights of Iranians.

US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal last year and re-imposed punitive sanctions as part of a stated campaign of "maximum pressure" against the Islamic Republic.

Officially, the sanction regime makes exceptions for food, medicine and other humanitarian goods, but most companies are unwilling to do any trade with Iran for fear of repercussions in the world's largest economy.

This is while, the United States insists that medicines and humanitarian goods are exempt from sanctions.  The restrictions on trade have made many banks and companies across the world hesitant to do business with Iran, fearing punitive measures from Washington. The country is cut off from the international banking system.

Official reports say Iran produces some 95% of the basic medicines it needs and even exports some of the production to neighboring countries.

But when it comes to more sophisticated medication and medicines for costly and rare illnesses and medical equipment, Iran depends heavily on imports. And though the state provides health care for all, many treatments needed for complicated cases are simply not available.

Trump "administration officials claim they stand with the Iranian people, but the overbroad and burdensome US sanctions regime is harming Iranian's right to health, including access to live-saving medicines", Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW said on October 29.

"The comprehensive web of US sanctions has led banks and companies to pull back from humanitarian trade with Iran, leaving Iranians who have rare or complicated diseases unable to get the medicine and treatment they require," she added.

Iranian patients have struggled with a foreign medicine shortage and price hikes for over a year both due to re-imposed US trade sanctions.

Medicine importers get subsidized currency rates from the government, yet foreign drugs and medical equipment cannot always be found in state-owned pharmacies.



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