0742 GMT February 21, 2020
"The brave Iranian people are being victimized by plots and economic sanctions that have been imposed by the US administration," Iran's Minister of Health and Medical Education Saeed Namaki said in a letter to Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday, Press TV reported.
Iranians, he added, have been the target of the severe restrictions that have badly affected imports of food, medicine and medical equipment.
The Iranian minister said Washington claims such sanctions do not include medicine, medical equipment and food, and they are meant to suspend exchanges in international banking systems. However, he argued, the behavior that the White House has adopted only goes in line with its efforts to intentionally stop imports of essential goods for the needy.
The minister emphasized that major obstacles put by the US in the way of Iran's import of medicine and medical equipment have had a negative impact on the treatment of many Iranian patients.
"By imposing sanctions on the Iranian people, the US has not only committed economic terrorism but in practice it has carried out a crime against humanity," Namaki said.
As the main organization in charge of providing universal public health coverage, WHO must not remain indifferent to this important issue, the Iranian minister said.
He added that officials of the United Nations must be held accountable for the adoption of measures in violation of law.
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 reimposed 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.
In May, the Academy of Medical Sciences of Iran wrote a letter of complaint to the UN in this regard.
In the letter, addressed to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the academy’s President Alireza Marandi mentioned a previously written complaint in condemnation of the “unjust” sanctions.