Iran’s health ministry and charity organizations, in separate letters to international bodies, have requested an easing of the banking embargo for health and medicine sectors. But Ahmadinejad also has come under criticism for trimming the budget for health care imports.
Iran’s former health minister Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi — the only female Cabinet member in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution — claimed that the $650 million budgeted is less than a quarter of what’s needed to keep state-run hospitals and pharmacies adequately supplied. Her challenge to Ahmadinejad led to her dismissal in late December.
The shortages prompted a warning letter in November to Ahmadinejad by 48 chancellors of medical schools across Iran.
‘‘Lack of purchase power to obtain medical equipment and discontent of patients and hospital staff could lead to student protests, too,’’ said the letter.
At a recovery center in Tehran, 8-year-old Milad Rostami’s mother watches over him carefully. The boy suffers from hemophilia and is currently recovering from knee surgery. His mother, Fatemeh, knows there is a long waiting list for a blood product needed to halt bleeding if the boy falls or re-injures his knee.
‘‘There is no hope,’’ said Ahmad Ghavidel, head of Iran’s Hemophilia Association, a charity body. ‘‘There is no hope for his health.’’
At dawn in another part of Tehran, patients are leaving the emergency room at the state-run hospital. Some carried pills, but others could get no treatment.
‘‘I don’t know how many of them will survive until my next shift,’’ said Rahmati, the nurse. ‘‘I did my best, but I know it was not the best for them.’’
As she walked out of the hospital, more patients were heading in.