Iran's healthcare system 'beyond the disaster' of the Covid wave

Doctors in hospitals in Iran sort patients on the floors of emergency rooms and in cars parked by the roadside. The lines stretch for b...

Doctors in hospitals in Iran sort patients on the floors of emergency rooms and in cars parked by the roadside. The lines stretch for blocks outside pharmacies. Taxis also act as hearses, transporting corpses from hospitals to cemeteries. In at least one city, workers are digging mass graves.

Iran is under attack by the most cataclysmic wave to date of the coronavirus, according to interviews with doctors and health workers, social media posts from angry citizens and even unusually outspoken media reports from State. The aggressive variant of the Delta has resulted in a record number of deaths and infections, and appears to overwhelm the health system of a country that has been reeling from Covid-19 since the scourge began.

The latest phase of the crisis has intensified the challenges facing the new radical Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, testing his abilities just days after taking office.

“The situation we are facing is more than dire,” said Dr Mahdiar Saeedian, a 39-year-old doctor in Mashhad, the second largest city in Iran. “The health care system is on the verge of collapse.

Even during the 1980-88 war with Iraq, said Dr Saeedian, who was born during that conflict, “it wasn’t like that.”

The official number of virus deaths is 500 to 600 people per day, but even these record numbers are disputed as low by some government media. Iranian state television said that an Iranian dies every two minutes – at least 720 a day.

Primary care doctors in Tehran, Isfahan, Ahvaz and Mashhad told the New York Times that the actual death toll was closer to 1,000 per day.

Doctors also say the true rate of infections is likely much higher than the official rate of around 40,000 a day due to insufficient testing and lack of access to care.

Medical staff who were once afraid to speak out are now openly berating what many Iranians see as a serious error in judgment, incompetence and neglect on the part of the nation’s rulers, since the Supreme Leader, the ‘Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, all the way down.

They are particularly furious at the shortage of vaccines, which Iranian leaders have refused to purchase on time or in sufficient quantities, instead preferring nationally developed alternatives that may be too late. They banned vaccines made in the United States and Britain, even rejecting donations, as Mr Khamenei said they were designed by the West to “infect other nations”.

Less than 3% of the 85 million Iranians have been fully immunized.

Covid-19 ward nurses are shown crying on state television. Doctors are posting videos on social media imploring authorities to act immediately before the crisis worsens: lock down the country and buy more vaccines made abroad, they argue.

“Whatever your budget, whatever steps you can take, get help from the world, do it to save people,” pleaded Dr Nafiseh Saghi, renowned physician and professor of medicine at Mashhad, in a voice message posted on social networks. media. “History will judge you. “

Iranian leaders have repeatedly sought to blame the United States and its prolonged economic isolation from the country for a series of domestic crises, including the contagion of Covid-19.

Critics say leaders mismanaged the pandemic from the start: withholding accurate data, refusing to order quarantines, criminalizing medical staff transparency, prioritizing the development of insufficient local vaccines and misleading the public by promising too promising mass inoculations.

“Whoever is at fault should be held responsible,” said Dr Muhammad Reza Fallahian, a doctor and professor of medicine in the capital Tehran. “Our vaccinations are very, very late. What else can we doctors do that we don’t do? We are at breaking point in Iran.

In revelations that shocked many Iranians, Dr Alireza Zali, head of Tehran’s coronavirus committee, told Iranian media on Wednesday that authorities had not authorized the purchase of foreign vaccines due to the expense.

When experts from the World Health Organization visited to assess Iran’s needs and offer assistance, Dr Zali said, his superiors ordered medical staff to portray the country as self-sufficient.

“They told us to praise the Iranian health system,” he said. “We covered up the real WHO death toll and diverted international aid at the airport. “

In his first week in office, Mr. Raisi, the new president, is under fire, even from his supporters, for refusing to lock down the country for two weeks at the request of the health ministry and for the vaccine shortage.

He admitted on Wednesday that “not that many” doses of the household vaccine had yet been produced and that he planned to import at least 40 million doses before winter.

Iranian Food and Drug Administration spokesperson Kianoush Jahanpour has promised that an unlikely 120 million doses of the vaccine will be imported within three months, including the Pfizer and Moderna brands, until they are released. not produced in the United States or Great Britain.

Mr Khamenei, who is responsible for Mr Raisi’s rise and would see him as a possible successor, said in a televised speech on Wednesday that the pandemic was the country’s main problem. He also said that efforts to vaccinate Iranians must be accelerated, opening the door for more purchases from producers in China, Russia and India.

But Mr Khamenei also rescinded health ministry warnings to cancel ongoing Shia mourning rituals for the holy month of Muharram, when thousands of worshipers converge on shrines, tightly packed and often unmasked – mature incubators for the super spread of the virus.

The government’s refusal to impose such restrictions has prompted unusually brutal expressions of anger, even from supporters who risk retaliation or at least accusations of disloyalty.

“If I say, ‘Mr. Raisi, by not quarantining Tehran when there are no hospital beds, you are responsible for the increase in the number of deaths, am I considered counter-revolutionary? Mehdi Sasani, a resident of Tehran who voted for Mr. Raisi, asked in a Post on Twitter.

Mr Sasani recounted his family’s ordeal in battling the virus, from being unable to find a hospital bed to wandering for hours from pharmacy to pharmacy looking for prescribed medication. He said people queuing for health care and medicine were cursing Mr. Khamenei.

“We are officially facing a situation without a government,” Hamidreza Salehi, a computer programmer, said in a statement. Post on Twitter. “They lost control of everything.

Despite the ravages of the most recent virus wave, photos and videos from Iran mostly show business as usual on the streets. Offices, shops and restaurants are open at full capacity. No restrictions were applied on masking, travel or social distancing. Many people, exhausted by the pressures of the bad economy, the pandemic and distrust of the government, are not following recommended protocols.

Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi said last week that the death toll in Iran would rise for six weeks, according to estimates by international agencies. Almost all of Iran’s 31 provinces are labeled “red,” the highest risk level according to the Iranian warning system.

In what appeared to be a concession to medical critics, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the powerful paramilitary force reporting directly to Mr. Khamenei, said on Thursday that its regional commanders would take action to help prevent the free movement of people. people across the country. Details of how these restrictions worked were unclear.

A mother in Tehran with a 13-year-old son who contracted Covid-19 said when his respiratory symptoms worsened she could not find a hospital bed and doctors who made home visits at low prices students told him they had no openings for days. To get the prescribed antiviral drugs, she said, she waited from midnight to 3 a.m. outside a 24/7 pharmacy.

Ehsan Badeghi, a reporter for the government newspaper Iran, said in an interview that her next door neighbor, a 43-year-old mother with two young children, had died a few days earlier while waiting for an ambulance. He said the woman could not find a hospital bed and could not afford home care services.

“Vaccination or quarantine both need money and planning and nothing is happening here,” he said. “The pandemic is therefore raging and will continue to worsen. We are dying and no one cares.

Critical medical therapies such as intravenous fluids, oxygen reservoirs and antiviral drugs are scarce in hospitals and pharmacies and are sold on the black market at exorbitant prices, according to interviews with doctors in four cities.

Medical staff are also physically and emotionally exhausted as they double-work in hospitals without a break, said Dr Ali Nikjoo, a 43-year-old psychiatrist in Tehran. He said he received numerous calls from colleagues struggling with depression, anxiety and grief.

“Medical personnel walk through a minefield every day,” said Dr Zakani. “There is an overwhelming sense of abandonment not only among doctors and nurses, but also among ordinary people. We float and we drown.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Iran's healthcare system 'beyond the disaster' of the Covid wave
Iran's healthcare system 'beyond the disaster' of the Covid wave
Newsrust - US Top News
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