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U.S. a major violator of human rights, say Iranians under sanctions
update:July 15,2021
TEHRAN, July 15, 2021 -- Paria Abdollahi, an Iranian high school student diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, cannot stop dwelling on her poor performance at school. The real issue isn't so much her condition: It's the lack of available medications needed to manage it.
"There are some ADHD pills that cannot be exported to Iran because of the sanctions, and their effects are 10 times higher than the ones currently available in the country," Abdollahi told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Her predicament is not uncommon. As U.S. sanctions against Iran have hampered the country's ability to transfer money and threatened pharmaceutical companies' commercial relationships with Iran, medical necessities and equipment are lacking.
That is why patients and their families call U.S. sanctions a crime against humanity, and criticized the United States for violating their rights to life and health.
Since she has not received proper medication, Abdollahi's ability to concentrate has been impacted. She has to take replacement medicines and even these have gotten expensive.
Abdollahi's mother, a nurse, has seen many Iranians struggling to find the medicines they need. Some have to travel far and wide to purchase overpriced pills.
"One single pill ... might cost around 30 million Iranian rials (roughly 120 U.S. dollars) ... and many of the sick are of the lower income classes," she said.
Such an economic burden has grown more obvious as oil exports have declined, trade has shrunk, and inflation has skyrocketed in Iran since former U.S. President Donald Trump's administration quit the Iran nuclear deal and re-imposed sanctions in 2018.
In fact, medical treatment has become not only costlier but also riskier.
Since U.S. sanctions have affected Iran's import of medicines from abroad, getting the everyday insulin shots has increasingly become a troublesome issue for Reza, a type 2 diabetes patient who only wanted to be identified by his surname.
Due to the lack of much-needed medicine, his wellbeing -- and even his life -- and those of others like him, are put in danger, the 69-year-old Iranian man warned.
With the advent of the coronavirus, members of his family are risking their own health by going to crowded drugstores at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is still rampant in the country.
"Some even tell me that their loved ones have been infected with COVID-19 because they were trying to get them shots or medicines," he said, slamming the U.S. restrictions imposed on Iran for importing medicines as "beyond evil."
Iran has registered over 3.4 million COVID-19 cases and more than 86,000 deaths since the country reported its first cases in February 2020. Today, it is enduring a fifth wave of the pandemic, driven by the spread of the Delta variant.
The negative impact of U.S. sanctions on the health of Iranians, though nothing new, has become more severe following the pandemic.
"There have always been sanctions, but with the advent of COVID-19, the impact of sanctions has doubled," said Maliha Gharib Shah, a nurse at the heart ward of Imam Hossein Hospital in Tehran.
Since the pandemic broke out in Iran, U.S. sanctions have restricted the country's access to its foreign currency reserves to purchase medical supplies and the raw materials needed to produce supplies locally, Javaid Rehman, United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, said in a report released earlier this year.
The pandemic, coupled with sanctions, has forced medical workers in Iran like Shah to work extra shifts with limited protective equipment. As a result, almost every medical worker at Imam Hossein Hospital has contracted the virus once, or like Shah, twice.
What is more troubling, Shah said, is that "there was no medicine and not enough equipment."
With U.S. sanctions in place, Shah said efficient drugs, especially respiratory drugs and antibiotics, were "rare" during this health crisis. Health care workers were forced to determine who needed priority care, or sometimes who would live or die.
As summarized by the UN human rights report, "this disruption has led to issues of scarcity and affordability, affecting the right to health."
At a meeting held in March by the Iranian Judiciary's High Council for Human Rights, Younes Arab, director of the Iranian Thalassemia Association and representative of thalassemia patients, said that "if thalassemia patients want to have a better life, they will need two things, namely quality medicine and standard medical supplies," referring to patients of a blood disorder.
"But today we are in a severe shortage of these medicines and annually we need 7 million vials of desferrioxamine, according to the estimates of the Ministry of Health of Iran, but unfortunately this amount was only 1 million vials last year," Arab said.
The sanctions, he added, are nothing but an obvious crime against humanity and thalassemia patients in Iran.
At the same meeting, a representative of epidermolysis bullosa (EB) patients named Mr. Keykhosravi on the council's website said Iran's banking sanctions and currency restrictions have been one of the reasons for the shortage of medicinal supplements for EB patients.
EB patients are often referred to as "butterfly children" because their skin is as fragile as a butterfly's wings. During his speech, Keykhosravi cited a letter given to Iran's EB House by a drugmaker, saying it would not be able to provide the dressings needed for EB patients due to U.S. sanctions.
Endangering the general public's health and security for political purposes is not only illegal, but amounts to "war crime and crime against humanity," Iran's Ambassador to the UN Majid Takht Ravanchi said Thursday while addressing the UN General Assembly's High-Level Meeting on AIDS, quoted by the Tehran Times.
Still, it remains uncertain whether the United States will return to the nuclear deal and remove the crushing sanctions against Iran.
Shah, the nurse, said, "if they (the Americans) behave humanely and lift sanctions, conditions will be a lot better for ordinary people."
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