HDI Indices Improve

HDI Indices ImproveHDI Indices Improve

Iran is the second country after South Korea to reduce the deficits in its Human Development Index (HDI), including shortcomings in the health sector.

Over the past 32 years, Iran’s HDI has grown by an average of 1.6% each year, while the global annual growth rate and that of coequal countries stands at 0.69% and 0.73% respectively, said Iraj Harirchi, deputy health minister, as quoted by IRNA.

Iran has climbed six steps in the latest United Nations 2015 Human Development Report.  The Islamic Republic’s HDI value for 2014 is 0.766, which puts the country in the ‘high human development category,’ positioning it at 69 out of 188 countries and territories. This marks Iran’s greatest improvement yet over a period of eight years. Iran’s HDI value for 2012 was 0.742. 

Speaking at an assembly of directors of medical universities recently, Harirchi said in 2012 and 2013, Iran ranked 12th and 13th in the HDI among 20 countries of the Middle East and North Africa region.

During those years, the share of government health funds could only cover 20% of the population.

“Most health policymakers failed to realize that the low numbers going to hospitals were because people could not afford the costly health services and also due to the fact that household expenses were high,” as the inflation rate was staggering, said Harirchi.

The rate of visits to doctors went down by a notable 3% to 11% and the amount of government aid which should have been in proportion to rising general costs, declined by around 16%. This was contrary to the resolutions approved in 2009 and 2010 requiring that 7% of the gross national income must be allocated to healthcare.

Total healthcare spending was equivalent to 4.2% of GDP in 2005.  It increased from $24.3 billion in 2008 to $50 billion by 2013, reflecting the increasing demand on medical services.

 Health Achievements

Pointing to the achievements of the 2014 Health Reform Plan, the official said, “Earlier, as a result of the exorbitant treatment costs, around 700,000 Iranians could not afford healthcare as they were under the poverty line, but with the implementation of the inclusive health insurance program, medical insurance coverage has been extended considerably.

The government and insurance companies’ coverage of medical tariffs has now reached 51% as against 35% earlier. Reforms have helped reduce the cost borne by patients for surgeries and medicines.

Over 400 drugs are available to patients suffering from cancer, infertility and chronic diseases for free, according to the Health Insurance Organization.

Further, the prices of medication have decreased as the inflation rate has come down. As a result, the budget earmarked for medicine and related items has declined from 20%-22% to 13.2% with the development of the health and insurance services, Harichi said.

The UN report said life expectancy in Iran increased by 21.3 years, from 54.1 in 1980 to 75.4 in 2014.

Iran’s HDI in 2014 was higher than the average of 0.744 for countries placed in the high development category, and well ahead of 0.607 for countries of southern Asia. Life expectancy at birth and expected years of schooling for men (74.3 and 15.2 years) and women (77.4, and 15 years) were higher than the global average of 72.8 and 13.8 years.