Iran: No One Acknowledges the Concerns of Workers

By ncr-iran Staff

“How do I spend millions of Tomans on my medication when I can’t even afford my food?”

How much pension does a retiree even get, to have to spend 400000 to 500000 Toman (95 to 120 $) on medications alone, just to “stand on own feet” and avoid paralysis?

These are the concerns of a pensioner who would be dependent on a “wheelchair” if he doesn’t receive his injections in time.

According to an article published on 23rd April 2018 by the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA), a pensioner named Morteza Asadi says: “Dear Minister of Health, how could you claim that the prices of the pharmaceuticals were going to remain the same when that clearly hasn’t been the case? you must be held accountable for your false claims. Why do you lie so much? why do you want to continue deceiving people for so long? …”

He continued: “how can I afford my expensive medications? how do you expect a pensioner like me, with just 400000 to 500000 Toman a month, to stand on my own feet?”

Due to a “very severe” illness known as ‘AS’, which is only slightly less invasive than ‘MS’, Asadi had to retire from his work just before his 40s. Since then, he has been on a pension. He is not happy with the fact that the Health Minister has failed to keep his promises (of keeping the pharmaceuticals from increasing in price), which has been problematic not just for him but many others too.

According to ILNA, when currency rates and dollar prices peak, medicines become rare or at best, more expensive. Patients who suffer from “special” or “incurable” diseases, will then experience more problems because their lives depend on such vital medicines.

Asadi’s life is one of the many that illustrate the detrimental consequences of a low income, especially with regards to imported products such as pharmaceuticals.

Asadi states: “Without my medicine, I cannot walk, and can do nothing but stay at home. The progress of my illness, which is a severe type of rheumatism, has been so significant that I had to retire at only 39 years of age.”

This pensioner’s comments on government’s failure in keeping its promises (regarding the price of pharmaceuticals) reads: “We have heard so many empty promises and every time we attempt to follow them up with the officials, we get told ‘not to worry’. Which seems to mean the opposite, as we ‘must’ in fact worry”.

Asadi says that he now pays 900000 for his three injections every two months, whereas in the past, he paid 250000 Toman (59 $) instead. He reiterates that his pension is his only source of income and explains: “my children are students; the injections alone cost me 900000 Toman (215 $); I have to pay at least another 100000 Toman (42 $) per month for my doctor consultations, daily treatments, and so forth”.

The Executive Secretary of the Employee Department of Qazvin city, Eid-Ali Karimi, who has closely witnessed the struggles of Morteza Asadi, states: “Asadi’s current conditions are extremely difficult; over the last months, the medicine prices have gone up significantly, yet, the insurance fees have remained the same; which has caused our workers and retirees on low-incomes, many problems.”

Karimi also criticizes the Ministry of Health: “what happened to the promises that the Health Minster made? People were advised ‘not to worry’ about anything, and were promised that the prices were not going to increase… but what happened?”

He continues: “what exactly does the Ministry of Health expect from our workers? On one hand, the Ministry increase the prices of the pharmaceuticals, and on the other, it invalidates the insurance companies by seizing their treatment resources…What is really going on? The officials keep transferring the issue to each other, but no one properly acknowledges the concerns of the workers… No one…”

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