Conditions of nurses in Iran: 80% deprived of vaccine, facing death
Every year on May 12, the world marks World Nurse Day to appreciate the work of this hard-working, compassionate, kind, and devoted group of medical professionals. Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus, nurses around the globe have been exposed to dire conditions.
Nonetheless, nurses worldwide have been able to continue their painstaking and high-risk work of caring for COVID-19 patients; the risks have been slightly reduced with the introduction of vaccines.
However, the Iranian regime has kept nurses in critical physical and mental health conditions by doubly exploiting nurses, including through 89-day contracts.
This brief article discusses the abysmal conditions of nurses in Iran.
Unpaid salaries and benefits; nurses emigrate from Iran in large numbers
Due to the regime’s inhumane policies, the number of nurses migrating from Iran has increased compared to previous years.
On May 5, 2021, the state-run Jahan-e-Sanat Newspaper quoted Mohammad Sharifi Moghaddam, Secretary General of Nurses’ Home, as saying: “With the outbreak of the Coronavirus and the suffering nurses have endured due to the situation, between 100 and 150 nurses leave the country every month. In European countries, nurses, especially during the Coronavirus pandemic, receive high salaries and good benefits. “
Dr. Armin Zareian, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Nursing Organization, announced on April 11, 2021, that 500 nurses per month were emigrating to North American and European countries (The state-run Daneshjoo News Agency, April 11, 2021).
Vaccination status of nurses
As of May 7, 2021, global statistics indicate that only 1.47% of the people in Iran have been vaccinated under the mullahs’ rule. According to these statistics, only Afghanistan – at about six-tenths of a percent – ranks lower than the Iranian regime.
In Middle Eastern countries, on average, some 25 percent of the region’s population has been vaccinated. If the Iranian regime continues to vaccinate its people at the current rate, the vaccination program will continue for years. A government official acknowledged that 80% of nurses employed in public hospitals have not yet been vaccinated (The state-run ILNA News Agency – April 8, 2021).
Abysmal conditions of nurses in Iran; failure to hire new nurses
Mohammad Mirzabeigi, head of the Iranian Nursing Organization, spoke about the severe shortage of nurses at a time when all cities in Iran are in the red zone, adding that nurses are in a very difficult situation. On the one hand, they have had a significant increase in workload; on the other, “100,000 nurses were infected by COVID-19”, and at least 130 nurses have died of it. The official described the shortage of nurses as “severe and chronic” (The state-run Salamatnews.com, May 11, 2021; the state-run ISNA News Agency – January 5, 2021).
Despite the abysmal conditions of nurses in Iran, the mullahs’ regime has taken no action to employ new nurses. Meanwhile, in countries with indicators worse than those of Iran, there are more than three nurses per bed or per thousand people. Mirzabeigi admitted that no new nurses have been hired in hospitals in the last 3 to 4 years.
According to his statistics, over the past 3 years (2018 to 2021), about 16,000 people in the nursing sector have been retired without replacement. This means that the ratio of nurse-to-bed and population is constantly decreasing while nurses’ overtime hours are increasing exponentially. In fact, in today’s situation, a nurse must carry the burden of at least four others.
Mirzabeigi emphasized that the regime needed to employ at least 40,000 nurses, “seriously and urgently” to get back to the circumstances of a few years ago when the ratio of nurses per bed or per thousand people was 0.9 or 1.
The regime’s policies have turned Iran to one of the “backward countries in terms of shortage of nursing staff.” This has resulted in overwork and excessive physical fatigue for them, which in many cases “causes death and depression among nurses” (Mohammad Mirzabeigi, head of the Iranian Nursing Organization – The state-run Salamatnews.com – May 5, 2021).
According to Mohammad Sharifi Moghaddam, Secretary General of the Nurses’ House, in 2016 alone, more than 10 nurses died suddenly due to what may have been overwork death (The state-run Salamatnews.com – May 5, 2021).
Nursing is a high-risk and harmful job. Nurses are exposed to stressors such as abnormal mental and physical conditions during their shifts; infection with pathogens and viruses such as Coronavirus, hepatitis, and AIDS; and exposure to radiation and carcinogens. Their job is completely different from that of an employee sitting at a desk. However, nurses do not have the opportunity to retire after 20 years of service. Under the mullahs’ rule, nurses are entitled to retirement after 25 years with a monthly wage of 25 workdays instead of 30 days. The pension law and the fact that nurses have not been paid their pandemic-era overtime earnings, nor their routine salaries and benefits, are among the primary reasons for the repeated protests of this hardworking group.