Health Ministry Rewriting Population Policies

Health Ministry Rewriting Population PoliciesHealth Ministry Rewriting Population Policies

The Ministry of Health and Medical Education has adopted policies to boost the current population growth, increase fertility rates, reduce termination of pregnancies and maternal deaths, and promote mother and childcare.

The policies adopted are in line with those decreed by the Leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, said Mohammad Esmaeil Motlagh, head of the Population, Family and School Health Office at the Health Ministry, IRNA reported.

Iran has seen rapid fertility decline, from above 6 births per woman at the time of the 1979 Islamic Revolution to 1.9 today, according to the UN Population Division estimates (2012). Among Muslim countries, only Albania has a lower fertility rate.

A result of the TFR (total fertility rate) decline is the rapid aging of the population, with the median age rising from 18 years in 1979 to 29 at present. Under the population division’s medium variant projection, the average age will exceed 40 by 2050.


Iranian demographers cite a wide range of factors including increase in marriage age (now 27 for women); higher education of girls, decline in infant mortality, rural development, economic hardship, and the high cost of raising children.

On May 20, 2014 in response to the changing age structure as well as the decline in growth rates, Ayatollah Khamenei instructed relevant government agencies to implement a 14-article population policy.

The main strategy taken up by the ministry to implement the first article, which addressed improving “the dynamism, development and youthful nature of the population” by increasing the fertility rate to above the replacement rate, was to encourage planned pregnancies.

Additionally, reducing termination of pregnancies by 10% through genetic counseling, prenatal care, managing unplanned pregnancies, and promoting access to preventive methods for high-risk pregnancies, were on the agenda.

“Facilities for infertility treatments including tests, IUIs, and IVFs are now also covered by social security insurance,” Motlagh noted.

To meet the objectives of the second article that highlights removing obstacles and facilitating marriage, the ministry established a department of ‘Adolescent Health’ to plan and manage projects related to reproductive health of adolescents  and marriage, given that there “are currently 11 million (30% of the youth population) single people in the marriageable age.”

The ministry also plans to encourage young couples to reduce the average gap between marriage and childbearing to three years from the current five, and help eliminate infertility caused by factors such as unhealthy lifestyle, infections, and pollution through medical intervention.

 Prenatal Care

“Maternal mortality ratio must decrease to 15 per 100,000 live births; the infant mortality rate is also projected to be reduced to seven for every 1,000 births from the current 10.”

To achieve the end, prenatal care units in hospitals will be improved to provide mothers and infants with exclusive care according to their health status.

“We hope to fulfill the goals by the end of the sixth five-year economic development plan (2016-21),” Motlagh said.

The workgroup formed in this regard at the Health Ministry is headed by Health Minister Hassan Hashemi and his deputy  Ali Akbar Sayyari is the secretary.