Coronavirus and American sanctions are killing people in Iran

US sanctions hindering the fightback against the epidemic

Both the Coronavirus and American sanctions are killing people in Iran. The ability of Iranian government to mobilise the financial and human resources to contain and control the COVID-19 epidemic has severely hindered by the US sanctions. The US must end these sanctions to enable the government in Tehran to coop with the worsening situation.
World Health Organisation (WHO) has asked the Trump administration to ease the sanctions against Iran. Iran is facing serious problems to purchase medical equipment and medicines from the market due to the American sanctions. Iranian authorities are trying to contain the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Director General WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said last week that Iran is doing its best in fight against the novel coronavirus despite the a lack of sufficient equipment and facilities mainly caused by US sanctions.
“We know that Iran is doing its best, all it can – That’s what I appreciate. They need lot of supplies and we have tried to support as much as we can-but there is still a shortage. We are trying to mobilise more support for Iran”. 
The Iranian government has accused the Trump administration for blocking the transactions to buy medicine-medical equipment and foodstuff.

Iranian ambassador in Madrid told the Spanish media that Iran is the only country in the world that cannot buy medicine and medical equipment from the global market because of American sanctions. The sanctions are hindering the government’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Iran is facing public health crisis as the COVID-19 epidemic continue to spread. The numbers are rising as more people every day get infected. Despite the partial lockdown-authorities are finding it difficult to deal with the public health emergency.
According to the Iranian health officials-one Iranian citizen is dying every 10 minutes from coronavirus in Iran and 50 more people every hour getting COVID-19 infection. The shocking figure came as the official death toll in the country reached 1,284.
The health ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said that “Based on our information, every 10 minutes one person dies from the coronavirus and some 50 people become infected with the virus every hour in Iran.” The total number of infected people has reached to 18,407. There are 1,046 new cases reported in last two days.  Still the experts believes that the figure is relatively higher and being under-reported in order to contain panic.
In Iran, one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis, a complex web of sanctions imposed by the Trump administration is choking off critical medical supplies to a country desperately in need. While this dip in supply is not new, the scale of the harm is, as doctors frantically try to respond to a catastrophe. Amid these dire circumstances, the Trump administration announced to imposing a fresh round of sanctions on the country.
Iranian health ministry has reported dire shortages of key supplies, including syringe and infusion pumps. The British media has reported   that several companies were reluctant to sell testing kits to Iran over concerns about violating a complex web of sanctions, until the WHO stepped in and instructed them to.

Relief International, one of the few humanitarian organizations that has been bringing medical supplies into Iran, issued a stark warning nearly three weeks ago: “There is an extreme shortage of these supplies in-country, where stock is often low due to the steep price of medicines and medical equipment—a consequence of U.S. sanctions.”
The doctors, nurses and pharmacists on the front lines of the crisis have been sounding the alarm about the dire circumstances for days. Medical professionals in Iran are experiencing the shortages.  Iran needs respiratory masks, surgical gowns, and ventilators on urgent basis which are out of stock. Medical services are struggling to get antiviral medication even to those patients exhibiting the most acute symptoms.
In October 2019, Human Rights Watch warned in a report that U.S. economic sanctions on Iran had spooked global banks and firms from transactions with the country, including those supposedly protected by “humanitarian exemption.”
“As a result, Iranians’ access to essential medicine and their right to health is being negatively impacted, and may well worsen if the situation remains unchanged, thereby threatening the health of millions of Iranians,” the report concluded.
People of Iran need help and solidarity at these difficult times.  These sanctions, by design and effect, inflict the most harm on people in Iran, especially those most vulnerable to the virus. But they also hurt the whole world.
                                                            Khalid Bhatti

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