The Coronavirus death toll in Iran has exceeded 244,800
Remembering Iran’s Angels on World Health Day 2021.
World Health Day 2021 is commemorated globally under the theme “building a fairer, healthier world for everyone.” The World Health Organization has called for urgent action to eliminate health inequities and mobilize action to attain better health for all and leave no one behind.
The situation in Iran, however, is far from these international goals. The British variant has now spread in all 31 Iranian provinces. As of April 6, 2021, the Coronavirus death toll in 535 cities across Iran has exceeded 244,800.
The following quotes from the Iranian regime’s officials shed light of the catastrophic situation in Iran.
Fourth peak of outbreak with British variant
According the regime’s deputy Health Minister, “In three weeks, the death toll will be three digits. In Tehran, the number of hospitalizations and deaths has increased by 50% to 70%.” (The official IRNA news agency, April 4, 2021)
The Iranian Health Ministry has announced that “the fourth COVID-19 outbreak is advancing rapidly and spreading from the west to the east.” (The official IRNA news agency, April 6, 2021)
Saeed Namaki, the regime’s Health Minister acknowledged: “Today we are facing one of the most horrific COVID-19 waves. We cannot predict what hospitalizations will be and it is not clear what awaits us. There are not enough resources and they (the Government) did not give us the fund for various reasons.” (The official IRNA news agency, April 5, 2021)
Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi also admitted: “Currently, 88 cities are red, 139 are orange and 198 are yellow. Infections and hospitalizations used to grow gradually and step by step. Now, it is rising exponentially like an elevator.” (The state TV – April 5, 2021)
Delirious rise in the number of Covid-19 cases
“The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Tehran has doubled, and all hospitals are on alert,” said Nader Tavakoli, deputy head of the National Coronavirus Combat Taskforce (NCCT) in Tehran.
“Every 24 hours, 1,000 COVID-19 patients are admitted to Tehran hospitals; 103 out of 175 hospitals are dealing with COVID-19, and 5,000 outpatients receive treatment daily,” he added. (The state-run ISNA news agency, April 6, 2021)
Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences: “We have a 250% increase in admission and hospitalization of COVID-19 patients compared to the first day of the Persian New Year, March 21, 2021.” (The state TV – April 4, 2021)
Hojjat Nazari, a member of Tehran’s city council, said: “The fourth peak of COVID-19 is due to mismanagement. i.e., There is no general vaccination, and vaccination has only started for specific groups. (The state-run Mehr news agency, April 4, 2021)
Although Iran was the epicenter of the outbreak in the Middle East, but it started vaccination later than all other countries in the Middle East.
Minoo Mohraz, member of the Scientific Committee of the National Coronavirus Combat Taskforce (NCCT), acknowledged: “The COVID-19 vaccine import is slow, and as the situation continues, vaccine supply will be gradual. Russian vaccines have caused severe side effects in some people.” (the state-run Rokna news agency, March 31, 2021)
Zafarghandi, Head of the regime’s Medical Organization said: “The vaccines are delivered in packages of 100,000 and 200,000, which are not sufficient even for the first phase of vaccination of the medical staff and vulnerable people.” (The state-run Mehr news agency, April 1, 2021)
Remembering Iran’s Angels – defenseless in the fight against Covid-19
In Iran, 80% of nurses are women. They are suffering more during the coronavirus crisis than any period before, and a significant number have died in the service of public health.
“The lack of basic safety and protection facilities for doctors, nurses and medical staff, has led to the loss of the best medical and specialized staff,” said Mostafa Mo’in, chairman of the Supreme Council of the Medical System and former regime Minister of Science and Health. (The state-run Mostaghel newspaper, April 4, 2020)
With the decision to lift quarantine and start economic and administrative activities in Iran, and the ever-growing number of patients, the pressure has increased even more on nurses who work a number of shifts and sleep on the floor of hospitals most nights. Many of them have not seen their children for months.
60,000 nurses infected with the Covid-19
Hossein Kermanpour, director of the Emergency Room of Tehran’s Sina Hospital, wrote on his Twitter account: “We are collecting accurate statistics from all over the country to find out exactly how many medical staff have contracted the virus or sacrificed their lives fighting COVID-19. So far, 107 of my dear colleagues have gone to Heaven.” (The state-run Salamatnews.com – May 19, 2020)
In an open letter to the regime’s authorities, the Nursing System Organization revealed that out of a total of 110,000 nurses, about 20,000 have contracted coronavirus. 5,000 people have left the service. Fifty of the best nurses have died. (The state-run Mehr news agency – September 30, 2020)
Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, the speaker of the regime’s parliament, announced that “30,000 of our nurses have contracted coronavirus.” (The state-run Salamatnews.com – October 8, 2020)
Mirzabeigi, head of the Nursing System Organization, said: “Out of about 145,000 nurses working near patients’ beds, 60,000 were infected with coronavirus, 6,000 are in quarantine and about 100 have died. (The official IRNA News Agency – December 17, 2020)
Mohammad Sharifi Moghaddam, Secretary General of Nurse’s Home, also announced on October 31, 2020: “So far, 60 nurses have died due to coronavirus. Another 6,000 nurses are on sick leave. Many nurses are also unable to work due to the long-term effects of coronavirus on their lungs and other organs.” (The state-run ILNA news agency – October 31, 2020)
In September, a member of the national coronavirus task force reported the death toll of 164 doctors and nurses. (The state-run Mehr news agency – September 23, 2020)
The lack of transparency in publicizing statistics is very clear in the officials’ comments and the above figures should be considered the bare minimum casualties.
Shortages and burnout among nurses
The shortage of nurses was a serious issue in Iran even before the outbreak of COVID-19. But after the epidemic, the situation has become much worse. Female nurses are the main victims of this tragedy in a medical system that has been ruined by the mullahs’ regime.
Referring to the shortage of nurses in Iran, Mirzabeigi, head of the Nurses Organization, said: “The most important problem of the nursing community is the severe shortage of staff. For about 170,000 hospital beds, there are only 145,000 nurses and the ratio of nurses to beds is about 0.08, while it should be 2.5 nurses per bed. So the number of employed nurses should be 2.5 times what it is now in order to comply with the standard conditions. If the trend of increasing the number of beds and retirement of nurses continues, the shortage will increase every day and patients will suffer the most.” (The official IRNA news agency – December 17, 2020)
“Our work shifts are 12 hours, but due to the increase in calls, a number of nurses are working more shifts, even up to 24 hours,” said one of the nurses in Unit 115 of the Tehran Emergency Department, who responds to people’s calls into the system. (The state-run Mizan news agency – November 5, 2020)
89-day long and temporary contracts
While the coronavirus has become a national catastrophe in Iran, the regime exploits nurses more than ever, instead of even paying their salaries or offering special benefits to those who are at the forefront of the struggle.
At least 35% of the workforce under the supervision of medical universities is employed under 89-day temporary contracts.
“The policy of the Ministry of Health over the past seven to eight years has been based on two things,” said Mohammad Sharifi Moghaddam, secretary general of the Nurse’s Home, in an interview with the state-run ILNA news agency. “One is to increase supply, meaning the number of nursing graduates, and the second is to eliminate job security for nurses. All this is an effort by the Ministry of Health to make the nursing workforce cheaper.” (The state-run ILNA News Agency – May 11, 2020)
“In the past, the number of nursing graduates was 5,000 a year, and in recent years we have 12,000 nursing graduates a year,” he added. “In fact, 60,000 people graduated in the last five years, and in the most optimistic case, the Ministry of Health has hired only 10,000 of them. Thus, 50,000 graduated nurses are unemployed and are looking for work, and because they are unemployed, they will become obedient workers who follow the employer’s orders and even endure the burden of exploitative contracts such as the 89-day contracts. In this way, we have tens of thousands of nurses working without any job security.”
Dismissal of nurses during the pandemic
At the height of the coronavirus crisis, many nurses and staff have been laid off without any supervision or justification. (The state-run ILNA News Agency – April 13, 2020)
The population of private sector nurses is about 7,000 to 8,000 individuals. 3,000 nurses also work on a contract basis and do not have any job security. Just as the nurses were expecting to find greater job security, their jobs were either put on hold or they were expelled in the context of plans implemented in March 2020.
In one example alone, 30 medical staff (operating room and anesthesia experts) of Abu Ali Sina Hospital in Shiraz were fired. (The state-run Salamatnews.com – May 2, 2020)
Salaries and wages
Nurses face many difficulties while making a simple living.
Nurses’ pay across Iran is delayed by about 8 to 14 months. According to promises made to nurses, their delayed wages were to be reduced to zero by March 2020, but no payments have been made during the final months of the Persian calendar year. Nurses are still at the forefront of the crisis, struggling with the challenges and problems of the overall health system. (The state-run Salamatnews.com – February 1, 2020)
A nurse said about the extremely low salaries: “For two months, I did not see my child or my mother. We have been working for a while and sometimes we sleep on the floor at night. Our salary is low; they gave us the equivalent of a dollar for our work.”
As their challenges continue to mount, in terms of low salaries, delayed wages, layoffs, and contract and non-permanent work, nurses have turned to protests in various parts of the year. But each time, not only did they not receive an answer, but in some cases, they were beaten and imprisoned. Private nurses have several months of unpaid wage claims.
On July 1, 2020, a group of 99 nurses in Mashhad protested in front of the judiciary. Ten female nurses were arrested during the rally. Repressive forces tried to disperse the nurses, attacked them with batons and electric shockers, and tore up their banners and placards. Mashhad University of Medical Sciences did not address their demands.
Protesting nurses at various rallies said that their wages have been reduced during the pandemic. At the same time, many nurses have not yet received related benefits.
The Association of Nursing Activists wrote in a strongly-worded statement that, “a nurse provides services to ten critically ill patients at the same time. Are the officials waiting for all the nurses to die of coronavirus before they bring in new hires?” (The state-run Salamatnews.com – November 15, 2020)