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Remarkable Strides in Health Reforms

Remarkable Strides  in Health ReformsRemarkable Strides  in Health Reforms

Improvement of social health was one of President Hassan Rohani’s election campaign slogans, accentuated again in his Nouroz (New Year) speech, wherein he promised to create a nationwide health insurance program.

The evolutionary idea was crystallized in the Health Reform Plan, programs of which are – as stated in an official site of the health ministry (tahavol.behdasht.gov.ir) – as follows:

-lowering the cost of treatment for the patients hospitalized in public hospitals

-furthering natural childbirth

-improving the quality of catering in public hospitals

encouraging physicians to stay and work in disadvantaged regions

-supporting public hospitals with resident, specialist physicians

-improving quality of visits in public hospitals

-providing financial support for patients with virulent diseases, special cases and disadvantaged patients.

According to Dr. Ali Mohammad Ahmadi, vice-chairman, Program and Budget Commission of the Majlis, the health program is  aimed primarily at reducing medical costs. Its implementation under the ‘Prudence and Hope government’ has raised morale of the people.

He said one percent of revenue accrued from value added tax (VAT) annually would be allocated to health programs. This will amount to $ 1,140 million. Parliament has also asserted that the budget share of health programs should be completely devolved on the health ministry, in order to implement reforms in the best possible manner.

Ahmadi estimated that there are in all 120,000 hospital beds, both government and private. Thus the health ministry should be able to cover more than 70 million people under its services.

Ali Asqar Peyvandi, head of Tehran’s Beheshti Medical Science University, also hailed the reforms. To maintain or even raise the current level of people’s satisfaction, he believes all the concerned officials will have to show perseverance.

 Insurance

Over 6.5 million people lacking basic insurance are now under the cover of the Health Reform Plan, Alireza Zali, head of the Medical Council Organization said.

Mohammad Javad Kabir, deputy head of Iran Health Insurance Organization (IHIO) says many of the insured are from deprived areas. Some 120,000 health insurance booklets have been issued in Sistan -Baluchestan Province. Under the Basic Healthcare Services for Villagers, it is aimed to improve healthcare access in rural areas by expanding insurance coverage.

 Int’l Acclaim

Achievements in health care have been internationally acclaimed in several areas in the last few decades. Reduced maternal, infant, and child mortality rates, control of infectious diseases and increased life expectancy to the average of 73 years, are among the achievements, IRNA reported.

The success has largely been attributed to the development of better health care for rural and disadvantaged populations.

 East Azerbaijan

In East Azerbaijan 99,000 people have received medical services from hospitals affiliated to Medical Science University of Tabriz since the onset of the reforms, said Mohammad Hossein Somi, university head.

In the past years, the health system was unable to meet the medical needs of the patients; but now public hospitals are empowered to provide them with extensive services within their premises.

While in the past, 30 to 70 % of therapeutic expenses were billed to the patients, this figure has now reduced to 10%, says Dr. Ali Delpisheh, head of Ilam Medical Science University. He also said some agreements on free treatment for disadvantaged sections had been reached.

 According to Ali Rabeie, minister of cooperatives, labor and social welfare, more medicines are being brought under insurance cover each day. This is the year of welfare evolution, he believes, remembering one of the early slogans of the revolution, which was aiding the deprived.

 Holistic Care

Meanwhile, Health Minister Hassan Qazizadeh Hashemi, said reduction in prices of medicines and providing holistic care to patients are among the priorities of the health reforms, which commenced from April 15 in all state-run hospitals across the country.

Thanks to efforts made by government and Majlis, health and social welfare ministries, and the Health Insurance Organization, the salary of physicians has also increased significantly attracting more doctors to disadvantaged and backward regions.

Further, dental care services are also expected to be covered by health insurance as oral health is related to heart, gastrointestinal and lung diseases, stroke, and premature delivery.

Food supplements and nutrients, including iron drops and multivitamin tablets, have also come under insurance cover for rural residents.

 Natural Births

Also, the ministry of health with the aim of reducing Cesarean section births recently eased natural birth costs.

An evaluation in the previous year of 1,40,0000 births registered in Iran, showed 52 % were ‘C’ section. Experts say risk of childbirth by ‘C’ section is seven times greater than natural birth.

 Burden of Diseases

However, despite remarkable achievements in the health sector, still 200,000 Iranians die annually due to stroke, cancer and accidents, ISNA reported.

Study of non-communicable diseases shows that from 380,000 deaths registered in 2011, 92,000 (25%) were due to heart stroke; 43,000 (13%) brain stroke; 31,000 (7%) due to accidents and 30,000 as a result of cancer.

The World Health Organization’s 2011 Global Burden of Disease (GBD) said in Iran cardiovascular diseases (17%), mental disorders (14%), musculoskeletal diseases (7.5%), traffic accidents (7.5%), neonatal problems (6.5 %), cancer (5.5%), respiratory diseases (4.2%), eating disorders (2%), and diabetes (2%), collectively make up 70% of the country’s burden of disease.

Also  the 10 primary risk factors for health in the country: are blood pressure (10 million), high BMI (9 million obese), physical inactivity (18 million with poor mobility), tobacco consumption (5.3 million), diabetes (7.5 million), air pollution, high cholesterol (14 million), occupational hazards and use of drugs (three million), respectively. The statistics relate to population aged 15 to 64 years.

Financialtribune.com