By Muhammad Sahimi
August 01, 2019 "Information Clearing House" - The illegal economic sanctions that the Trump administration has imposed on Iran are ruining its economy by increasing the inflation rate—from nine percent before the sanctions to 35-40 percent today—as well as unemployment, and forcing countless numbers of small businesses to close. Whereas Iran’s economy grew by 12.5 percent in 2016, it has shrunk by six percent in the first six months of 2019. These are the results that President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and National Security Advisor John Bolton constantly brag about. But they have created unspeakable suffering for ordinary Iranian people, who don’t even have a say in what their political system does.
The worst aspect of the sanctions is their human toll, caused by severe shortage of critical medicines and medical equipment for millions of Iranians. Fear that common citizens will be unable to obtain the medicines they need is everywhere in Iran, and for good reason. Every year, there are 112,000 new cases of cancer in Iran, one of the fastest growth rates of cancer in the world. The most painful aspect is the situation faced by children with cancer whose chances of growing up have been dramatically reduced. As one Iranian mother whose child has cancer put it, “Children battling cancer are an unintended victim of American sanctions on Iran. Maybe I have the financial support to travel to neighboring countries in order to provide medication, but what about other ordinary people? They are losing their child in front of their eyes. What about supporting human rights [as Pompeo and Bolton claim to do]? A lot of people are saying human rights, so where is it? There is no support for human rights, it is just a claim.”
In a letter published by The Lancet, the prestigious medical journal, three doctors working in Tehran’s MAHAK Pediatric Cancer Treatment and Research Center warned that, “Re-establishment of sanctions, scarcity of drugs due to the reluctance of pharmaceutical companies to deal with Iran, and a tremendous increase in oncology drug prices [due to the plummeting value of the Iranian rial by 50–70%], will inevitably lead to a decrease in survival of children with cancer.”
There are 5.2 million Iranian people who suffer from diabetes. Over 72,000 people suffer from multiple sclerosis (MS). There are at least 66,000 people afflicted by the AIDS, but many experts believe that the actual number is much larger because, due to the social stigma associated with the disease, many people are reluctant to seek treatment. There are at least 800,000 people with Parkinson’s disease and at least 700,000 people with Alzheimer’s. There are more than 23,000 people with thalassemia in Iran, who suffer from shortage of medicine despite great progress on the part of the Iranian government in addressing the problem. Such patients are treated by blood transfusion once every few weeks and take a medication called deferasirox, which treats a side effect of blood transfusion (excess iron). Iran has been able to produce some generic versions of the medication, but still needs to import significant quantities of it.
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