Foreign Firms Investing in Iran Health Projects

Foreign Firms Investing in Iran Health Projects
Foreign Firms Investing in Iran Health Projects

Twenty-four new hospitals and 20,000 hospital beds, including specialized beds for ICUs (which each cost $202,900), will be added to the existing capacity of the healthcare system in the coming years, and would be financed by foreign and domestic private companies.

On the eve of the first conference on ‘Foreign Investment in Healthcare System’ to be held on May 14-15 in Tehran, Davoud Danesh Jafari, senior advisor to the health minister, said “The foreign companies that have expressed interest to cooperate in this regard including firms from South Korea, Japan and Italy, besides domestic investors, have been invited to the conference,” IRNA reported.

“In order to upgrade capacity of hospitals in response to increasing demand in healthcare services at state hospitals, especially after the implementation of the health reforms in 2014, we had talks with different foreign companies, but the contracts have not been finalized yet as there is still need for further study on the matter,” and to work out the modalities, he said.

Regarding the method of cooperation by foreign firms in contributing to Iran’s healthcare, he said joint project contracts can be signed between foreign and domestic private investors.

“Local investors should be the financial underwriters of the foreign firms and the government will have no role in it,” the official said.

However, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance and the Central Bank of Iran will provide some guarantees to the foreign companies as per the relevant rules and procedures.”

Currently, there are 95,000 hospital beds in the country or 1.7 beds per 100,000 people. In order to reach neighboring Turkey’s standard which is 2.8 hospital-beds per 100,000 people, “we need to add 100,000 beds,” he said.

Given the deficit in state funding, the maximum number of hospital-beds the government can annually add is only 1,600, and therefore reaching the global standard “will take at least 60 years if we don’t get help from the domestic private sector as well as foreign investors.”

The Health Ministry’s budget for this fiscal year that started in March is 90,000 billion rials ($2.6 billion).

  Gov’t Role Unwanted

Foreign investments will benefit the health system, Danesh Jafari said. He explained that the management of the new hospitals by the Health Ministry will not be cost-effective as the government will have to pay the difference between the medical tariffs at state-run hospitals and private hospitals; at present state-funded healthcare services are four times cheaper than private healthcare.

Currently, 400,000 personnel are on the ministry’s roster and the figure is expected to rise to 600,000-700,000 employees with the implementation of the upcoming hospital projects.

He hoped the domestic private sector would cooperate in the health ventures. Some of the new hospitals are planned to be built in existing hospital grounds or universities of medical sciences, and include the Imam Hussein Hospital in Tehran, Namazi Hospital in Fars Province, Karaj Hospital in Alborz Province and Tabriz University of Medical Sciences in East Azarbaijan Province.

“As the contracts for the projects have not been finalized yet, the amount of foreign investment will be announced only after the agreements are signed.”

A senior health official had said in January that the ministry had received applications from 60 foreign firms to invest in hospital building projects in Iran among which the proposals by an Italian and a Korean firm had been approved.

Ibrahim Raisiyoun, the health minister’s economic advisor had stated that after the nuclear agreement with the six world powers and removal of sanctions, more than 60 foreign firms, including from China, France, Italy and South Korea had submitted applications to invest in healthcare projects, particularly in hospital construction.

Noting the finalization of four hospital project agreements with the Samsung Company from South Korea and Italian Pessina Costruzioni to build medical facilities in Tehran, Rasht and Neishabur, he said negotiations were underway with South Korea’s Daewoo to build another hospital