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Thousands of Iranian Patients Ask UN Chief to Remove US Sanctions for Untroubled Access to Medicine

Thousands of Iranian patients with special needs in a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for his efforts to lift the US unilateral sanctions against Iran which have blocked the country’s access to drugs and medical equipment.

“The illegal US economic sanctions have prevented our access to health care, medicine and medical supplies. In the last two years, we have repeatedly pursued supply of drugs and medical equipment with the Iranian government and even pharmaceutical companies or companies supplying drugs and medical equipment for a wide range of patients with special needs, mostly children and minors. But due to the implementation of the US illegal sanctions and, specially the obstacles posed by Washington to financial exchanges, the imports of drugs and medical equipment for these patients is not possible,” the letter said.

It added that the US sanctions have led to the loss of a significant number of patients, some of them have suffered serious physical injuries, and in general, the patients have suffered and sustained severe physical and psychological harms.

“We are still suffering from this shortage of medicine and medical equipment,” the letter noted.

It warned that dozens of thalassemia and epidermolysis bullosa patients, specially children, etc. have lost their lives due to the lack of their special-need medicine and medical equipment due to the US systematic and organized policy called comprehensive crippling sanctions against Iran.

The letter called on Guterres to take all necessary measures to prevent continued criminal sanctions against the oppressed and defenseless patients who are under the support of non-governmental organizations, and take necessary measures to implement human rights and humanitarian law in UN member states.

The letter was written by the heads of Iranian Thalassemia” Association, Iranian MS Association, EB House of Iran, Iranian Kidney Patients Support Association, Hemophilia Center of Iran and Iranian Autism Association, representing thousands of Iranian patients with special needs.

The US sanctions and restrictions on export of drugs and medical equipment to Iran have shortened the breath of patients suffering from cancer, hemophilia, epilepsy and thalassemia.

Despite the American officials’ claims of not imposing sanctions on imports of drugs to Iran, some specific medications needed for rare diseases are hard to obtain in the country due to banking embargos that hamper money transactions which causes some Western companies to refuse to sell the necessary drugs and medical equipment to Tehran.

“The US has targeted the Iranian patients and they have planned to pressure those who are consumers of these drugs. Therefore, the vitamins and ordinary drugs are easily accessed in the market but the US is making its utmost attempts to prevent Iran from purchasing the vital medicine and those which are necessary for cancer patients,” Head of the Iranian Society of Blood and Cancer of Children Hassan Abolqassemi told FNA.

He added that the crime committed by the US against the Iranian patients is worse than its crime in Hiroshima.

Meantime, Head of Iran Thalassemia Association Yunes Arab said that 90 thalassemia patients lost their life last year due to the lack of drugs and the US sanctions, adding that 60 other young patients also died in the current year.

“They would have been breathing a normal life if it hadn’t been for the US sanctions on drugs,” he told FNA.

The US embargos have also left impacts on the hemophilia patients.

“Basically, what the US is doing is a type of war crime; although the Americans declared that drugs and medical equipment are not sanctioned, what we witness is harsh sanctions in the field of drugs and medical equipment,” former head of Iran’s Hemophilia Association Ahmad Qavidel told FNA.

Also, Sara Nouri, the Managing-Director of Iran’s MPS (Mucopolysaccharidosis) Patients Society, told FNA that the Association provides necessary medicine to the MPS patients but it has faced problems after the US sanctions.

“The most important medicine needed for the patients is a type of enzyme and they should receive them weekly,” Nouri said, adding that 300 MPS patients have been identified in Iran so far but the number is expected to increase to 1,000.

“For instance, if a patient should receive 50 drugs in a period of time, he/she receives 5 to 10 drugs now due to the problems created by sanctions, and this will inflict serious harm to the patients’ health,” she warned.

Meantime, Dariush Nasabi Tehrani, the head of Iran’s Epilepsy Association, cautioned of the shortage of medicine for the epileptic patients due to the US sanctions.

“Production of a number of medicine has been disrupted for the sanctions and the patients are forced to use the medicine produced by other companies which are highly expensive,” Nasabi Tehrani told FNA.

“The embargos make these patients anxious and concerned about shortage of their drugs while they should be assured of easy accessibility to medicine due to the sensitiveness of their disease,” he added.

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