Iran Is a Health Leader in the Region
Iran is rightly recognized for its approach to primary health care
Tehran – World Health Organization Director-General, Tedros Adhanom
Ghebreyesus, has said Iran’s commitment to ensure highest health standards
for all segments of the population is commendable.
He admired Iran’s efforts on providing access to comprehensive healthcare
services for all the residents, saying that offering healthcare services to
all is a global commitment, and other countries must look to Iran as a role
model in terms of public health coverage and primary healthcare.
He made the remarks in a meeting with Iranian Health Minister, Saeed Namaki,
on the sideline of the 66th meeting of the WHO Regional Committee for the
Eastern Mediterranean in Tehran.
Providing universal healthcare has recently been emphasized at the United
Nations, and a resolution was recently adopted at the UN General Assembly,
Namaki, for his part, said, “We also hope that the event would help boost
international cooperation and infrastructure development of the health
sector among member states.”
The 3-day event kicked off in Tehran on October 14, with health ministers
and high-level representatives of the 22 countries and territories of the
WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region, partner organizations and civil society in
Key technical health issues discussed during the event included ending
preventable newborn, child and adolescent deaths, strengthening nursing and
midwifery as well as hospital sector, developing national institutional
capacity for health policy-making and accelerating the regional
implementation of the UN Political Declaration on the Prevention and Control
of Non-Communicable Diseases.
WHO Lauds Iran’s Commitment to Public Health Coverage
Addressing EMRO Regional Committee 2019 in Tehran, WHO director general
said Iran is a health leader in the region, and is rightly recognized for
its approach to primary health care.
This, he said, has contributed significantly to major improvements in
maternal and child health, and prevention and control of non-communicable
WHO welcomes President Hassan Rouhani’s commitment to delivering health care
for all Iranian citizens through the Health Transformation Plan, he said.
Noting that public investments in health have increased, and out-of-pocket
spending has decreased, Ghebreyesus congratulated Iran because health
workers are now better paid, infrastructure has been modernized and
insurance coverage is near universal.
Iran is indeed an example from which the region and the world can learn, he
stressed, adding: “Of course, there is always room for improvement. WHO is
committed to working with the Government of Iran to find ways to improve
efficiency and sustainability, to take advantage of the opportunities
offered by big data and artificial intelligence, and to meet the needs of
your ageing population.”
He finished his statement by citing three challenges for the next 12 months.
First, the burning challenge of reducing neonatal mortality, which he said
Iran has rightly identified this as a key priority.
No community, nation or region can thrive when it loses so many of its next
generation. “I urge you all to act on the recommendations of the
implementation framework with a sense of urgency.”
The second challenge he cited was strengthening the health workforce: “A
country can have the best hospitals, the most modern equipment and shelves
full of medicines, but without skilled health workers, it does not have a
Investing in health workers is not a cost, it’s an investment that pays a
triple dividend for health, gender equality and economic growth.
The third challenge he mentioned was forging ahead, even in the midst of
crisis: “Our commitment to health for all is not a commitment only for times
of peace and stability. It’s a commitment for all times, and all
circumstances. In fact, it’s a commitment that is even more important in
situations of conflict and other humanitarian crisis. It’s a commitment to
defend the right to health, and to serve the vulnerable.”
Health in IRI ‘Vision 2025’
In addition to high-level commitment from policymakers and authorities,
Iran’s legal system and national policy framework support action on SDH and
provide many opportunities for tackling determinants at national,
provincial, district, and local levels. The IRI ‘Vision 2025’, the fourth
national development plan and various articles of the national constitution
are aligned with an SDH approach. The country’s Supreme Leader and current
president support the concepts of SDH and equity and publicly announced this
support during the fourth CSDH meeting, held in Iran in January 2006.
The Ministry of Health and Medical Education (MoHME) functioned as the focal
point for SDH work in Iran and collaborated with WHO through the SDH
secretariat, under the supervision of the deputy minister of health. The
secretariat coordinated with the other departments of MoHME, related
sectors, civil society organizations and partners in order to integrate SDH
in their plans and action. As well, a multidisciplinary team was established
to accelerate SDH processes.
In pursuit of this vision mentioned before, Iran conducted or supported a
wide range of activities related to SDH implementation:
Hosted 4th CSDH Commissioners meeting in Tehran (January 2006);
Conducted informational and consultative meetings for different ministries,
MoHME departments and civil society organizations;
Conducted bi-monthly meetings for technical subcommittee;
Hosted WHO missions to develop situation analysis and policy documents;
Produced in-depth assessments of SDH and health inequities in Iran;
Contributed to situation analysis of SDH in Iran by WHO missions;
Included SDH in the community-based initiative (CBI) training of programme
managers and community representatives;
Trained students of public health on SDH topics;
Conducted trainings on SDH for municipal health staff; Ministry of Welfare
and Social Security (MOWSS); State Welfare Organization (SWO); and civil
society organizations, including Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation (IKRF); and
Organized consultative meetings with health program managers, MOWSS,
Municipality, SWO, and others to put SDH on their agenda.
These actions created an environment in the country in which the SDH concept
was understood and accepted by health partners and multi-sectoral allies.
Many were interested in incorporating an SDH approach into their plans and
Islamic Republic of Iran mentioned that many efforts remained substantially
tied to individuals, and more work was required to develop sound mechanisms
and processes for integrated joint actions. That may only be possible if a
comprehensive situation analysis clarifies linkages between the work of
related sectors and the health sector, and identifies appropriate roles and
responsibilities, along with a set of evidence-based policies that can be
pursued collaboratively by different sectors and allies.