Healthcare Services for Urban Poor

Healthcare Services for Urban Poor
Healthcare Services for Urban Poor

Rapid urbanization that is leading to inadequate housing in urban areas has contributed to the development of informal settlements within and around metropolises and bigger cities across the country. Living in these settlements often poses significant health risks. 

According to a survey conducted by the Health Ministry, before implementation of the 2014 Health Reform Plan, 65% of those living in informal settlements lacked access to essential healthcare services and 80% were uninsured, IRNA reported.

“At present, all people living in such areas (11 million) have access to basic health services. We have established one health station (with at least two physicians) for every 12,000 people living in informal settlements and one specialized treatment center for every 50,000 people,” said health minister Seyed Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi, on the sidelines of an official meeting in Mashhad, capital of Khorasan Razavi Province last week.

Each treatment center has one medical lab technician who assists physicians in diagnosis and treatment of diseases by collecting samples from patients and sending them to predetermined city laboratories. Medical personnel start treatment based on the lab reports. 

Physicians, nurses and health technicians working at the treatment centers are not employed by the ministry but are private sector employees, but the Health Ministry provides funds under the plan, he said. 

He added that the pilgrimage city of Mashhad has one of the largest populations of slum dwellers (around 1.3 million people) living in 66 informal settlements. “So far, 119 health stations and 42 treatment centers have been established in the holy city.”

  700-Bed Hospital Ready by March

Stating that currently the city lacks 3,000 hospital beds, he said the construction of the Imam Reza 700-bed hospital in Mashhad will be completed by the end of the current year in March 2017. “Also, 300 more hospital beds will be added to Akbar children’s hospital located in the southern part of the city.”

According to the Interior Ministry, 11 million people live in 2,800 informal settlements spread across 77,000 hectares in 91 cities, and 87% of them are more than 15 years old. For this fiscal year, a budget of $27.5 million was allocated for upgrading informal settlements in Mashhad, and $10.2 million each for the cities of Qom and Shiraz located in the provinces of Qom and Fars, respectively.

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