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Free Cancer Treatment in Rural Areas
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Free Cancer Treatment in Rural Areas

Health Minister Hassan Hashemi announced that treatment for terminal illnesses in remote areas will be provided free of charge.  He said the ministry is striving to make access to chemotherapy drugs easier for cancer patients, adding that the drugs will be made available free in underprivileged areas, which includes villages and small towns.
At present public and private hospitals have beefed up their supply of chemotherapy drugs and new departments will be opened with the help of oncologists and radiotherapists all across the country for chemotherapy treatment,’’ said Hashemi in an interview with IRIB, on Thursday. ‘’This will not only be cost-effective but also will make the monitoring of these drugs easier.’’
Hashemi lambasted the practice of chemotherapy treatment at home saying ‘’nowhere in the world is this type of home care practiced.”
 The practice will be banned within 6 months, he said, adding that for patients in big cities, chemotherapy will be administered at 10% cut in costs.
 Insurance
The minister had outlined some of the initiatives taken by his ministry last week. He said new health projects will be taken up before the end of the Persian calendar year (March 20, 2015). Dr. Hashemi said for the first time “all Iranians have insurance coverage now.” More than 7 million people have been covered, he said quoted by ISNA.
On the health schemes in rural areas he said for the first time too, food supplements and vitamins were distributed among expectant mothers and infants.
Further, different vaccines were also made available in these areas and “we hope new vaccines will become available for our inoculation packages soon,’’ Hashemi noted.

 Health Centers
The minister further said 2,000 new health centers will be ready to operate by the next Islamic Revolution anniversary or ‘Daheh Fajr’ (from February 1-11, 2015) and added that 575 hospitals were renovated this year.
Hahsemi emphasized that “renovation is not the same as expansion” and said ‘’we are facing a shortage in emergency units, burn centers and psychiatric hospitals.’’ Due to funding shortage both in the government and the parliament, there is a move to establish hospital networks with the help of the private sector and philanthropists by the end of the year.
He said public hospitals render the best services to patients but acknowledged that these hospitals face overcrowding and staff shortage. He pointed to the increase in medical specialists’ work hours saying ‘’whereas in the past specialists saw their patients until 2:00 pm, now 790 specialists in 300 cities provide care even on public holidays.’’ He said overall there are 7,000 specialists working in the country.
The minister said with a fleet of 15 rescue vehicles permanently on roads, it’s now a thing of the past when 150,000 km of roads were without ambulances. The number of ambulances would increase to 45.

 Extension
Hashemi also noted a decline in C- section births “after their drastic rise in recent years” and said natural births were registering an increase. Hoping that health care would be extended to all rural areas by the end of the administration’s tenure, he said “9 million people in poor suburban areas were covered by health insurance as part of the Health Reform Plan.”
The minister pointed to the embargo on medicines and the difficulties caused and said $600 million was allocated to tackle this shortage. ‘’Hard to find medicines declined from 300 to 30, but we are still struggling in this area as the problem is global,’’ said Hashemi. He called for more attention to local production of medicine noting ‘’more than 95% of the drugs are manufactured domestically.’’
Hashemi urged citizens to take  care of their health pointing out that cardiovascular disease is the top causes of death among Iranians, and that 5 million people have diabetes, making Iran one of the top ten countries in the region in the number of diabetic patients. Nearly 50% of people are overweight and he warned that salt intake among Iranians is 2.5 times more than the global average.
‘’20% of Iranians over the age of 15 suffer from high blood pressure and this in turn leads to an increase in heart disease and strokes,’’ he cautioned.

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