The Forum for Partners in Iran's Marketplace

January 2020, No. 93


Iran Is a Health Leader in the Region

Iran is rightly recognized for its approach to primary health care

Tehran – World Health Organization Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has said Iran’s commitment to ensure highest health standards for all segments of the population is commendable.

He admired Iran’s efforts on providing access to comprehensive healthcare services for all the residents, saying that offering healthcare services to all is a global commitment, and other countries must look to Iran as a role model in terms of public health coverage and primary healthcare.

He made the remarks in a meeting with Iranian Health Minister, Saeed Namaki, on the sideline of the 66th meeting of the WHO Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean in Tehran.

Providing universal healthcare has recently been emphasized at the United Nations, and a resolution was recently adopted at the UN General Assembly, he said.

Namaki, for his part, said, “We also hope that the event would help boost international cooperation and infrastructure development of the health sector among member states.”

The 3-day event kicked off in Tehran on October 14, with health ministers and high-level representatives of the 22 countries and territories of the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region, partner organizations and civil society in attendance.

Key technical health issues discussed during the event included ending preventable newborn, child and adolescent deaths, strengthening nursing and midwifery as well as hospital sector, developing national institutional capacity for health policy-making and accelerating the regional implementation of the UN Political Declaration on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases. 

WHO Lauds Iran’s Commitment to Public Health Coverage

Addressing EMRO Regional Committee 2019 in Tehran, WHO director general  said Iran is a health leader in the region, and is rightly recognized for its approach to primary health care.

This, he said, has contributed significantly to major improvements in maternal and child health, and prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.

WHO welcomes President Hassan Rouhani’s commitment to delivering health care for all Iranian citizens through the Health Transformation Plan, he said.

Noting that public investments in health have increased, and out-of-pocket spending has decreased, Ghebreyesus congratulated Iran because health workers are now better paid, infrastructure has been modernized and insurance coverage is near universal.

Iran is indeed an example from which the region and the world can learn, he stressed, adding: “Of course, there is always room for improvement. WHO is committed to working with the Government of Iran to find ways to improve efficiency and sustainability, to take advantage of the opportunities offered by big data and artificial intelligence, and to meet the needs of your ageing population.”

He finished his statement by citing three challenges for the next 12 months.

First, the burning challenge of reducing neonatal mortality, which he said Iran has rightly identified this as a key priority.

No community, nation or region can thrive when it loses so many of its next generation. “I urge you all to act on the recommendations of the implementation framework with a sense of urgency.”

The second challenge he cited was strengthening the health workforce: “A country can have the best hospitals, the most modern equipment and shelves full of medicines, but without skilled health workers, it does not have a health system.”

Investing in health workers is not a cost, it’s an investment that pays a triple dividend for health, gender equality and economic growth.

The third challenge he mentioned was forging ahead, even in the midst of crisis: “Our commitment to health for all is not a commitment only for times of peace and stability. It’s a commitment for all times, and all circumstances. In fact, it’s a commitment that is even more important in situations of conflict and other humanitarian crisis. It’s a commitment to defend the right to health, and to serve the vulnerable.” 

Health in IRI ‘Vision 2025’

In addition to high-level commitment from policymakers and authorities, Iran’s legal system and national policy framework support action on SDH and provide many opportunities for tackling determinants at national, provincial, district, and local levels. The IRI ‘Vision 2025’, the fourth national development plan and various articles of the national constitution are aligned with an SDH approach. The country’s Supreme Leader and current president support the concepts of SDH and equity and publicly announced this support during the fourth CSDH meeting, held in Iran in January 2006.

The Ministry of Health and Medical Education (MoHME) functioned as the focal point for SDH work in Iran and collaborated with WHO through the SDH secretariat, under the supervision of the deputy minister of health. The secretariat coordinated with the other departments of MoHME, related sectors, civil society organizations and partners in order to integrate SDH in their plans and action. As well, a multidisciplinary team was established to accelerate SDH processes. 


In pursuit of this vision mentioned before, Iran conducted or supported a wide range of activities related to SDH implementation:

·         Hosted 4th CSDH Commissioners meeting in Tehran (January 2006);

·         Conducted informational and consultative meetings for different ministries, MoHME departments and civil society organizations;

·         Conducted bi-monthly meetings for technical subcommittee;

·         Hosted WHO missions to develop situation analysis and policy documents;

·         Produced in-depth assessments of SDH and health inequities in Iran;

·         Contributed to situation analysis of SDH in Iran by WHO missions;

·         Included SDH in the community-based initiative (CBI) training of programme managers and community representatives;

·         Trained students of public health on SDH topics;

·         Conducted trainings on SDH for municipal health staff; Ministry of Welfare and Social Security (MOWSS); State Welfare Organization (SWO); and civil society organizations, including Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation (IKRF); and

·         Organized consultative meetings with health program managers, MOWSS, Municipality, SWO, and others to put SDH on their agenda. 

These actions created an environment in the country in which the SDH concept was understood and accepted by health partners and multi-sectoral allies. Many were interested in incorporating an SDH approach into their plans and actions.

However, the Islamic Republic of Iran mentioned that many efforts remained substantially tied to individuals, and more work was required to develop sound mechanisms and processes for integrated joint actions. That may only be possible if a comprehensive situation analysis clarifies linkages between the work of related sectors and the health sector, and identifies appropriate roles and responsibilities, along with a set of evidence-based policies that can be pursued collaboratively by different sectors and allies.


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  January 2020
No. 93