Healthcare in Iran
The Islamic Republic of Iran is an ancient country with a special geostrategic location in the Middle East and West Asia. Iran throughout its history has faced revolutions, wars and periods of instability that might make people believe that its healthcare system is underdeveloped. Additionally, sanctions from the West have had a direct effect in the medical field, specifically in the access of certain pharmaceuticals. Nevertheless, in the last decades, Iran’s motivation to improve the healthcare infrastructure has resulted in surprising figures and has contributed to rural poverty alleviation. Today, Iran’s healthcare system includes both public and private facilities and services. Here are eight facts about healthcare in Iran.

8 Facts About Healthcare in Iran

  1. Healthcare is a constitutional right. After the 1979 Revolution, Article 29 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran established that every Iranian citizen has a right to enjoy the highest attainable level of health. The Ministry of Health and Medical Education is responsible for providing the enjoyment of this right by designing and implementing coordinated health policies and plans at a national level.
  2. Iran’s health investment has increased significantly in the last 10 years. The country’s focus on expanding and improving its healthcare system is evident. In 2014, when initiatives had already started, the health expenditure was 6.89%. By 2017, it increased to 8.7% out of a Growth Domestic Product of $1.64 trillion. Comparing this figure to a Western country to place it in context, the United Kingdom’s health expenditure that same year was 9.6% out of a GDP of $2.93 trillion.
  3. Public facilities are the main provider of healthcare. During the 1980-1988 war with Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran was in miserable conditions and it was difficult to visualize progress in the Iranian health system, especially the access of health services to rural areas. Nonetheless, the Iranian government has made many efforts to reduce rural poverty, extend the healthcare structure through health houses and provide primary, secondary and tertiary services, especially to rural areas. Today, more than 90% of Iran’s 23 million rural population has access to free healthcare services such as prenatal care and vaccination.
  4. Health houses are the principal access point for rural residents to receive health services. Health houses are small public medical facilities that provide health services to the rural areas surrounding them. Generally, trained medical workers that manage vaccinations, maternal health care and child health care integrate these facilities. There are approximately 17,000 health houses in Iran or one for every 1,200 residents. Health Houses have had a tremendous impact on Iranian rural societies since they have improved the health infrastructure and reduced the distance that people need to travel to receive medical care. Health Houses have become an efficient and cost-effective healthcare network that has met the needs of rural communities that can sometimes experience neglect.
  5. Urban residents can choose between public and private services. In 2016, there were 773 hospitals in Iran, which is one for every 92,100 residents. These are located mainly in cities, so urban residents have the advantage of having access to specialized healthcare. Additionally, the private sector plays an important part in the healthcare provision, focusing principally on secondary and tertiary health services in urban areas. Urban residents can decide between public and private facilities, even if the private sector tends to offer higher quality care, it is still more expensive.
  6. The urban-rural disparity has declined significantly. The country has almost eliminated basic public health indicators, such as the neonatal mortality rate, infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rate. Four decades ago, the urban-rural disparity was significant due to inadequate coverage of the population and general instability. In fact, in 1974, the infant mortality rate in urban areas was double the rural numbers with 76 versus 130 per 1,000 inhabitants. By 1996, the indicators were almost identical with 27.7 versus 30.2 per 1,000 inhabitants. The Health House system, which has permitted access to improved healthcare around the national territory, has softened this gap dramatically.
  7. There are many non-Governmental organizations (NGOs) active in health issues in Iran. Many NGOs are operating inside the Iranian territory offering care for more specialized issues like childhood cancer, breast cancer and diabetes. MAHAK, for example, is a nonprofit, non-political and non-governmental charity that works toward the reduction of pediatric cancer by offering comprehensive and advanced treatment services to children with cancer and their families. In 2007, MAHAK established a Pediatric Cancer Hospital that by 2014, had diagnosed and treated over 23,000 cancer-stricken children; today, this hospital plays a major role in the region for its access to the latest technology of the field. Additionally, the Ministry of Health and Medical Education supervises and supports the NGOs’ efforts to help them obtain the necessary permits in providing medical care to the Iranian population.
  8. Medical tourism has boosted in the country. Another of the facts about healthcare in Iran is that it has become a leading country for medical tourism in the region. Many people travel to the country for its high-quality health services and advanced equipment and affordable medication and treatment compared to other countries of the region. In 2016, around 100,000 travelers visited Iran to receive medical treatment that varies from rhinoplasty to infertility treatments. Every year, healthcare in Iran is growing and calling for more patients from regional countries due to its expanded system and infrastructure.

Despite the challenges in the fields of sustainability of resources and health governance, these facts about healthcare in Iran show that it is exceptionally modern in different ways. Overall, Iran has managed to improve health indicators, reduce the urban-rural gap and develop a system that grants basic healthcare to almost every geographic area in the territory. These efforts have improved the quality of life, contributed to the development of human capital and played an important role in helping rural areas alleviate poverty and health insecurity. In recent years, Western sanctions have made it more difficult, but still, Iran’s health-related figures have improved dramatically and health expenditure has increased. Thus, Iran is becoming a leading nation in the region for its healthcare system because many consider it a secure destination for patients from countries nearby.

– Isabella León Graticola
Photo: Unspash

Healthcare in IranIran, officially recognized as the Islamic Republic of Iran, has a population of more than 84 million. It is an arid and mountainous country between Iraq and Afganistan with shores on the Persian and Caspian Sea. Iran is the 17th largest country in the world. Healthcare in Iran has improved since the implementation of the Primary Health Care system, but there is still a divide between rural and urban access.

In 1974, Iran began fueling more resources into the expansion and development of its healthcare system. The government hoped that implementing Primary Health Care (PHC) would improve citizens’ access to healthcare in Iran. By 1979, PHC networks slowly began integrating into healthcare in Iran. It wasn’t fully developed and functioning until 1985.

Rural and Urban Divide

Since the Iranian government created a PHC, it has continued to expand healthcare. Currently, Iran has public and private systems; however, public healthcare has taken on the main role in healthcare services. Unfortunately, there continue to be disparities between rural and urban access. Rural citizens obtain healthcare services at health houses that are scattered across Iran’s countryside. These places generally have two working medical professionals with basic equipment to meet standards needs for nearby residents.

There is approximately one health house to care for the needs of 1,200 rural citizens. These centers offer general healthcare needs, such as vaccinations, maternal and child health and health education. As of 2018, around 90% of those in rural areas had access to basic health services. Although these health houses didn’t provide the same care as urban hospitals it did increase the access to health services for those living in rural areas. Those in rural communities did not have to venture into urban cities for their basic healthcare needs or checkups.

At least 75% of the population lives in urban areas and cities. Here, they have access to Iran’s private and public hospitals. There are 773 hospitals in urban areas in Iran. This is where advanced medial professionals reside and specialized treatment is available for the citizens. However, even in urban areas hospital infrastructure is lacking.

Reconstructing Healthcare in Iran

In May 2014, healthcare in Iran entered a major reconstruction period as the Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education (MoHME) began implementing its new Heath Transformation Plan (HTP). The new plan involved nine packages to reform the current healthcare system, including improved access and quality of healthcare and increasing the number of specialized doctors. These improvements have since provided healthcare to almost 10 million Iranians in “marginalized areas” throughout Iran. The program also rehabilitated 13,000 existing health centers and built 3,000.

While there continue to be disparities in healthcare access between rural and urban areas. Iran has continued to increase its expenditures for healthcare services and create programs like the Heath Transformation Plan. This has helped healthcare in Iran to continue on the path of growth and development while allowing Iranians to have more confidence in their countries healthcare system.

George Hashemi
Photo: Flickr

Water Crisis in Iran
The Islamic Republic of Iran (Iran) has had conflicts with the U.S. since the Islamic revolution in 1979 and the people of Iran have suffered in many ways since then. Hardships as a result of both international sanctions and domestic government actions have affected Iranians. The Shah of Iran sparked the current water crisis by nationalizing the country’s water resources, before the revolution. However, the new Islamic Republic ignored the warnings of Iranian environmental experts and accelerated dam and well building. This, in turn, effectively caused the disappearance of about 85% of groundwater sources. Today, Iranians are at the precipice of a water crisis that government mismanagement, a population boom and climate change all brought on. Without a drastic change in government policies, some posit that around 70% (i.e., about 56 million Iranians) may have to flee to more developed countries if the water crisis in Iran is not adequately addressed within the next 20–30 years.

The Nationalization of Water

Before its nationalization, water in Iran was a sustainable resource, with 34 million Iranians relying on millennia-old, natural underground canals for their drinking water. This preserved aquifers in the country, maintaining renewable water resources at 135 billion cubic meters. However, now with a widespread population of more than 80 million and government-supported infrastructure contributing to rapid water consumption — renewable resources are less than 80 billion cubic meters. This problem has contributed to conflicts in the region, with water shortages and poor-quality, drinking water as driving forces behind large-scale, violent protests. Here, many poor, frustrated Iranians are the first to see the effects of the water crisis.

The Iranian government has accelerated the depletion of water resources in the hopes of expanding agricultural and infrastructure projects in pursuit of self-sufficiency. The agriculture sector claims more than 90% of the country’s water supply, leaving only a small percentage for Iranian citizens. The regime awarded huge, dam-building contracts to companies connected to those in power and encouraged farmers to grow crops (no matter their level of water consumption). Government-supported dams blocked large rivers throughout the nation and prevented aquifers from replenishing. This, in turn, forced farmers and other individuals to drill deeper wells into the depleting groundwater resources. As a result, the number of wells in existence since the revolution has multiplied by more than 13 times.  Around half of the wells are illegal and produce far beyond what is sustainable, according to the deputy agriculture minister. The situation has created a negative feedback loop of government-mandated, harmful infrastructure projects and unsustainable water consumption — producing the current water crisis in Iran.

Environmental Challenges

Environmental issues have exacerbated the water crisis in Iran. Drought has struck the region as a whole, but especially Iran, with 2017 being its driest year in nearly seven decades. Declining rainfall, higher temperatures, desertification and extreme weather all place added pressure on Iran’s water supply. Further, the intense burning of fossil fuels has contributed to an overall decline in biodiversity and increased water pollution — putting what little remaining water at risk.

Taking Action

A proposed solution includes increasing the use of water desalination, especially in the Capsian sea. This proposal is extremely expensive and could also cause undue harm to already low sea levels and territorial disputes. Within Iran, there are examples of individuals who have bravely stood up against the regime and advocated for more sustainable policies. Saeed Pourali writes in the Tehran Times that the current band-aid solutions in Iran will not be nearly enough. Pourali claims that the regime must listen to experts and environmentalists. Further, Pourali claims that Iranian individuals must also take it upon themselves to lower their water usage. Victoria Jamali, an assistant professor at the University of Tehran, founded Iran’s leading environmental organization — the Women’s Society Against Environmental Pollution. Since the early 2000s, Jamali has worked to bring comprehensive legal reform to Iran, to protect water and other natural resources. Taking after U.S.-styled environmental law, Jamali now teaches young Iranian activists and environmentalists to stand up for this important cause, despite the Iranian regime’s reluctance to create and enforce environmental legislation.

The Need for Reform

Corrupt management of resources and a close-minded approach to economic development has led to the severe depletion of Iran’s water supply over the past four decades. Although, it is a popular belief that the Shah started Iran down this path himself, even before 1979. Today, the water crisis in Iran is especially poignant. A massive population boom and civil unrest against the corrupt regime brings this issue to both the national and international stages. The consumption rate has proven itself to be extremely unsustainable, which is why individuals like Saeed Pourali and Victoria Jamali have been so active in trying to bring about real change. The ultimate goal is to protect Iran’s environment and natural resources. Reform will be expensive for Iran, especially under strict, international sanctions. However, reform is necessary to combat the water crisis in Iran and protect those impoverished Iranians who will suffer the most.

Connor Bradbury
Photo: Pixabay

fighting covid-19 with innovationSince the first diagnosis of COVID-19, the virus has spread to more than 200 countries. The unanticipated challenges of the pandemic take a significant toll on people, especially those in countries where the accessibility of essential resources and healthcare are limited. Despite this fact, nations around the world have demonstrated their resilience and critical thinking during this calamitous time. COVID-19 has revealed negligence in economic and healthcare systems all over the world, but it has also inspired innovation in science and technology. It is clear that humanity looks to overcome these difficulties and build the world into a better place. Here are four countries that are fighting COVID-19 with innovation.

4 Countries Fighting COVID-19 with Innovation

  1. Iran is developing a low-cost, easy-to-build ventilator. It is being developed at the University of Tehran’s School of Electrical & Computer Engineering. The ventilator is for patients with severe respiratory distress. Hospitals around the world have been experiencing a shortage of ventilators due to their elaborate structure and high production cost, which inhibits quick, large-scale manufacturing of the machines. The lead scientist of this endeavor, Hadi Moradi, has made this an open-source ventilator. He plans to share his team’s design with other scientists so that they can modify and build ventilators for their own communities.
  2. In Uganda, Grace Nakibaala created the PedalTap. It is an affordable, foot-operated water dispensing device that reduces the spread of infectious diseases. In Uganda, people have a 60% chance of contracting an infectious disease if they wash their hands in a public sink because the handles can be unsanitary. Nakibaala’s device works hands-free so that people can avoid contact with viruses and bacteria, including COVID-19. It is also water-efficient, retrofittable and durable, making it a sustainable technology among those fighting COVID-19 with innovation.
  3. Australia has recently launched a contact-tracing app called COVIDSafe. The app uses Bluetooth technology to find other devices with the app installed. It measures how far users are from each other and how much time they spend together. COVIDSafe keeps users’ contact information for three weeks before deleting it, to account for the two-week incubation period of the virus. Users diagnosed with the virus may upload their close contact information. This allows health officials to look up others who are diagnosed, find the COVIDSafe users they have come into contact with and instruct them on what to do.
  4. In China, patients at a Beijing hospital are receiving mesenchymal stem cell injections. These injections are helpful for regenerating lung tissue, allowing patients to fend off COVID-19. So far, researchers reported the results of seven patients treated with stem cells. Each patient suffered from COVID-19 symptoms, and each received a single infusion of mesenchymal stem cells. A few days later, researchers said that symptoms disappeared in all seven patients and that there were no reported side effects. Currently, 120 patients are receiving stem cell treatment, and while more clinical testing is necessary to validate these trials, the results look promising.

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on healthcare and political systems worldwide. However, these four nations have demonstrated that they can productively conquer the challenges that the virus brings. Along with these four, other nations worldwide are responding to these unprecedented issues in novel and innovative ways, fighting COVID-19 with innovation and redefining healthcare for generations to come.

Sarah Uddin
Photo: Flickr

The Fight Against Locusts
Asia, the Middle East and Africa are in a battle with an entity that threatens the food security of 10% of the population. This problem has come and gone before and goes by the name of the desert locust. These locusts fly in swarms of 10s of billions, in coverage ranging from a square third of a mile to 100 square miles. For reference, a swarm the size of one-third of a square mile could eat the equivalent of 35,000 people.

The leading cause of the sudden outburst of locusts is the months of heavy rain that Africa and Southwest Asia had towards the end of 2019. Locusts thrive in wet conditions when breeding and the rain sparked a massive emergence of the bugs.

The locusts could become the cause of food insecurity for millions of people. The reason for this is the sheer number of insects and also how quickly they can travel. They swarm from one food supply to the next, while moving from one country to the next within days. When they decide to land in a town or city that seems to have an abundance of crops, they will eat anywhere from 50 to 80% of all the plants. This has resulted in many countries and international institutions increasing cooperation, as the locusts do not discriminate against which country they deplete of resources. Below are five of the ways that collaboration has developed in the fight against locusts, which highlights the importance of working together during national emergencies.

5 Cases of International Cooperation in the Fight Against Locusts

  1. The World Bank has put together a $500 million program called The Emergency Locust Response Program to immediately assist farmers in the Middle East and Africa. This will help the citizens of affected countries with cash transfers, and will also go towards investing in agricultural industries. The first four countries that will receive the aid are Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. They will collectively receive $160 million of the $500 million total.
  2. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has paired with the United Nations to strengthen technology that tracks locust swarms. The administration typically helps track weather and other changes in the environment, but now will use its resources to help monitor the locusts. It is trying to re-purpose technology to track smoke in order to follow the migration of locusts. This will help prepare countries and cities better, as they will have a more accurate prediction of when the swarms will reach them. These institutions are also developing different types of bio-pesticides, which will have less of an impact on humans and crops.
  3.  India has offered a detailed plan to Pakistan and Iran to team up against the swarms effectively. Pakistan has yet to accept the deal, but if accepted, the countries would “coordinate locust control operations along the border and that India can facilitate the supply of malathion, a pesticide, to Pakistan.” The plan originated in hopes of trying to save some of the estimated $3 billion of lost crops within the affected regions.
  4. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has contributed $19 million to the FAO to fight the locusts in East Africa. The money will go to Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, which are three of the worst-hit countries. The aid will help these countries afford airplanes to perform aerial spraying and training for infestation fighters on the ground.
  5. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed another $10 million to the FAO. This money will go towards the same countries as the USAID contribution went to. The countries have gratefully accepted the money, yet still need more support. However, contributions from organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are closing the gap between necessary resources and obtained resources.

The cooperation between organizations and countries in the fight against locusts proves to be the silver lining of the infestation. International institutions are effectively planning, tracking and coordinating efforts to minimize the problem for farmers and food-insecure people around the world.

– Aiden Farr
Photo: Pixabay

 HIV in IranAccording to the CDC, the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS is extremely prevalent. People hold negative beliefs that HIV/AIDS only impacts the most marginalized groups in society. This stigma is also prevalent in Iran.   

Stigma in Iran

Bigotry and the spread of misinformation have caused many people in the Islamic Republic of Iran to believe that HIV and sexual impropriety are inextricably linked. Since Iran is one of the many countries where being LGBTQ+ or a sex worker is illegal, that means that the teaching of HIV prevention and the normalization of testing is sorely lacking. People refuse to distribute and teach information about how the virus is transmitted and avoid conversations about stigma and treatment. The Clinical Infectious Diseases Correspondence (CIDC) reported in 2016 that Iran has failed to broaden its testing, treatment, and diagnostic services related to HIV. This means that most HIV positive people in Iran have not been diagnosed and are unaware of their status.

There is a lack of awareness around how HIV is transmitted as well. The UNAIDS reported in 2018 that 61,000 people in Iran were living with the virus, 20% were receiving antiretroviral treatment, and only 36% of the infected population were aware of their status. This data confirms that the vast majority of the HIV positive population in Iran is living without any knowledge of their condition.

Addressing the Issue

Luckily, UNAIDS chapter in Iran and the International Federation of Medical Students Associations have partnered up to create multiple programs to combat the stigma and enhance treatment and diagnostic techniques for future healthcare providers. For the past seven years, they have resisted the stigma through awareness campaigns, workshops, summer school programs and field visits for medical students.

Alumni from these summer schools would eventually come together and form the Avecene Consultancy, a program that builds on campaigns of awareness and knowledge of HIV-prevention and use it to create new forms of education with up-to-date technological advances. The result has come to fruition in the form of REDXIR, an online platform that uses games to help students navigate the virus by combating the stigma and misinformation that people often spread about HIV/AIDS.

REDXIR

REDXIR is an online game that sets the stage for an imaginary world where the player–a medical student–is fighting symbols of HIV-related discrimination and stigma. This game is set up in ten levels where players must take the blood pressure of patients as well as blood-sugar tests and blood samples, rearrange discriminatory social media posts about HIV and comment on why the posts are harmful, why the post is discriminatory and on the final level, they must train volunteers to work for an HIV awareness campaign.

The long-term impact of awareness-building projects like this is a step forward in fixing the lack of treatment for the poor sectors of countries where the stigma related to HIV/AIDS is prevalent. To develop adequate treatment programs accessible to everybody, especially people living in poverty, the stigma around HIV must be dismantled. The first step in developing a better health plan is education and awareness of how the virus works.

Isabel Corp
Photo: Unsplash

7 Facts About Poverty in Iran
In recent years, absolute poverty in Iran has risen drastically. Action is necessary in order to provide basic needs and prevent more Iranians from falling under the poverty line. Here are seven facts about poverty in Iran.

7 Facts About Poverty in Iran

  1. Economic Downshift: According to the Iranian Parliament’s Research Center, between 23 to 40 percent of Iran’s population will be living in absolute poverty soon. This is due to an increase in unemployment, inflation and a downward trend in economic growth. The Research Center’s report shows that the inflation rate has risen to 47 percent from 2018 to 2019 and estimates that 57 million more Iranians will fall into poverty over 2020.
  2. Support Packages: The Iranian Parliament’s research center recommends that the government send support packages to the Iranians suffering under the worst conditions in order to supply them with basic needs. The government would provide support packages four times a year. It would also include cash cards that people can use only for food items.
  3. Crossing into Poverty: For a family of four living in Tehran, the poverty line rose to a monthly income of 27 million rials or $650 per month. Now, anyone living with a monthly income of $650 per month and under is considered to be living in poverty. The Research Center’s report shows a 22 percent increase in people living in poverty since 2017. The increase means that Tehrani families of four that were not under the poverty line in 2017, now are.
  4. Organizations that Help: The Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation is an Iranian organization that provides support to families living in poverty. The government and private donors support the foundation. The Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation invested almost $155 million in solar plants to assist families living in poverty.
  5. The Weakened Rial: In May 2019, President Hassan Rouhani announced his decision to partially withdraw from the 2015 nuclear agreement. Shortly after, the rial decreased by 3,500 points. In 15 months, the rial went from 40,000 to 156,500 to the dollar.
  6. Sanctions and Corruption: Iran’s banking and oil sectors are its backbone, but U.S. sanctions have greatly affected these sectors, causing an economic crisis in Iran. Many Iranian’s have fallen victim to panic-buying due to fear of price increases. Internal corruption has led to an occasional scarcity of goods due to merchants and entrepreneurs hoarding goods to increase prices.
  7.  Plan B: To generate income, Iranian officials say that they are ramping up non-oil goods. They have also built up a network of traders, money collectors and exchange companies in other countries to get around banking and financial sanctions. If sanctions remain, they plan to export other goods to prevent further economic despair.

In Iran, 26 million people are living in absolute poverty. However, with more support from the Iranian government and better relations with the U.S., Iran’s increase in poverty can come to a halt.

Lisa Di Nuzzo
Photo: Flickr

examples of human rights violations
A human rights violation is the disallowance of the freedom of thought and movement to which all humans legally have a right. While individuals can violate these rights, the leadership or government of civilization most often belittles marginalized persons. This, in turn, places these people in the cycle of poverty and oppression. Individuals who approach life with the attitude that not all human lives are of equal value then perpetuate this cycle. This article will explore examples of human rights violations, and what people can do about this phenomenon.

A Brief History

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights emerged in 1948. Of the 56 members of the United Nations at that time, eight of them did not vote in favor of equal human rights. Since then, international human rights have made monumental progress. This does not mean, however, that some do not violate these rights every single day.

The development of human rights advocacy is not a linear process; the last two decades have shown that human rights advancements have remained stagnant or declined in some parts of the world. Socially disadvantaged groups of society are especially susceptible to discrimination. This includes women, children, ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, refugees, indigenous peoples and people living in poverty.

Discrimination

The ramifications of human rights violations disproportionately affect those living in developing nations due to compounding factors and difficulties. The marginalization of groups based on gender identity and sexual orientation has become a prevalent issue of the 21st century. Although there are exceptionally progressive parts of the world that have made advances toward the inclusion of the LGBTQIAPK (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual, queer, intersex, asexual, pansexual/polyamorous, kink) community, stigmatization remains a dilemma that lacks a clear resolution. Other stigmatized cases include persons living with HIV/AIDS and victims of rape or other forms of gender-based violence.

Abuse of the Death Penalty

There are countless examples of human rights violations. One example that is especially heartbreaking is the Islamic Republic’s execution of children. The United Nations special investigator of human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehmen, stated in his report to the U.N. General Assembly in October 2019 that the use of the death penalty continues to be at the top of global charts. This is despite significant progress in the two years prior.

Iran has a long way to go. This is considering that religious and ethnic minorities still face high levels of discrimination. Rehmen described the recent maltreatment of human rights activists: “[they] have been intimidated, harassed, arrested and detained.” Rehmen goes on to inform the assembly that between the months of September 2018 and July 2019, eight well-respected human rights defense attorneys were arrested and sentenced to an extended time in prison.

New Wave of Human Rights Violations

Those living in the least developed nations experience some of the worst human rights violations. The U.N. General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Right to Development in 1986 to address this issue specifically. The declaration is radical in the sense that it acknowledges development as a right for all humans. This is something that people clearly do not enforce, although it is a legal right. This provides an understanding that development is a crucial component in reaching equality and protecting human rights.

Prisoners of war and torture victims are also examples of human rights violations. The War on Terror sparked a new influx of human rights abuse acts that has continued over the last two decades and supported the destabilization of international human rights. In order to recover this lost sense of humanity, a common understanding of the rights of human beings is essential.

The western mindset, which takes these rights and freedoms for granted, contributes to this issue as a whole. The question is how can leaders with limited resources enforce the protection of the people’s rights?

The Solutions

Achieving a sustainable, practical and effective method of protecting human rights around the globe that also allows local values and culture to remain intact is a difficult ambition. Humans must recognize the beauty of individual differences and attempt to understand each other before a change can happen. Starting with the smaller steps, like understanding victims of rape, violence and discrimination instead of perpetuating a victim-blaming culture, might be more influential than viewing the situation through such an expansive lens. Only then will these examples of human rights violations turn into examples of human kindness.

– Helen Schwie
Photo: Flickr

Iran’s allocated budget
The year 2019 has proven challenging for Iran as relationships between leaders have caused agreements to cease, straining Iran‘s allocated budget. The nation has felt a weakening economy that is raising the price of the products that the government and foreign aid had previously offset. With the strain of medical costs, many people have had to forfeit medical assistance. There has also been an onset of flash flooding that caused damages to property and the loss of dozens of lives. Looking through these instances, it will be clear how relevant legislation, such as The International Affairs budget, will be.

Disease In Iran

Historically, one reason why disease had spread so quickly was due to the distance between medical facilities, weak public health structure, lack of adequate health treatments and cross-contamination. In recent decades, however, Iran’s allocated budget has made significant efforts to ensure that health crises, like those of the 20th century, do not repeat themselves. The program covers immunization against universal diseases such as Hepatitis B, Tuberculosis and measles.

Iran’s allocated budget began in 1982 by creating a National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG). Of the illness that Iranian patients experience, over half of them are related to rotaviruses. A vaccine could prevent many rotavirus diseases such as influenza and varicella. The World Health Organization states that it especially emphasizes that countries with high infant mortality rates take the most advantage of pneumococcal vaccines.

During 2015, Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani, saw through promises he had made Iranians regarding their quality of life, medical access and food shortage. Reconciliation became a possibility as Iran agreed to cease its nuclear programs in exchange for international relief. In 2018, however, that changed when President Trump introduced several harsh sanctions on Iran, causing medical supplies to decrease at a rate the country has not been able to match.

Economic Factors

The value of the Rial (Iranian currency) drastically reduced in value which is an economic factor for why Iran has been having a difficult time. Community leaders in Iran have written hundreds of letters to the government due to the inflation rate of medicine reaching into the hundreds. Although businesses are properly stocking their shelves with over-the-counter medications, workers in hospitals have a different reality. Workers have received instruction to prescribe over 100 medications at a scarce rate or not at all to preserve resources. A portion of those medications is for threatening conditions like diabetes. The scarcity not only results from tough U.S. sanctions but also a misallocation of funds by the Iranian government.

Iran’s limited allocated budget is affecting more than just its health care system. Between March and April 2019, Iran experienced severe flash flooding resulting from record-breaking heavy rainfall for the region. In previous natural disasters, others highly publicized the region’s circumstances and relief came voluntarily when a 6.6 earthquake took place in 2003. The flash floods of 2019 have affected nearly half of Iran’s provinces, causing damage to infrastructure, livestock and agriculture. As these floods displaced thousands of Iranians, there has been a need for food rations as well. The displacement of Iranians adds strain to the nation’s resources, as portions of those supplies are coming from within the country itself.

Conclusion

By enacting policy changes like the International Affairs Budget act, Iran would be able to guarantee its assistance. The budget alone accounts for a small portion of the Federal budget, but the effects of those dollars go farther to make a more significant change in nations that have the most need. For regions that experience poverty, natural disasters or weak health care system, initiatives like the International Affairs budget can make a difference even down to local levels.

– Kimberly Debnam
Photo: Unsplash

 

Resource TrapLogic follows that the wealthier a country becomes, the more financial resources it should have to combat poverty. The European Union countries and the United States have many programs to address domestic and global poverty, administered by both non-governmental (NGO) and governmental organizations. Taking the logical argument further yields that countries with vast natural resources should be equally capable of fighting poverty. By monetizing their vast natural resources, they should have plenty to provide for their citizens. The reality though is starkly different due to the resource trap.

Resource Trap

While rich countries are capable of enacting change, the manner by which their wealth was accumulated affects how their governments appropriate funds. The resource trap, or resource curse, as called by the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), posits that resource-rich countries tend to have higher rates of conflict and authoritarianism combined with lower rates of economic stability and economic growth. Along with the NRGI, Bloomberg finds that countries with vast natural resources have high degrees of conflict, corruption and poverty.

One of the many examples of this conundrum in the world today is Iran. According to the CIA’s World Factbook, Iran’s economy has a large industrial sector which makes up 35.3 percent of the country’s GDP. Iran’s large oil reserves gave rise to its top three industries: petroleum, petrochemicals and gas production. These three are resources commonly cited in reports regarding resource traps.

Even though Iran is rich with natural resources, it has an Aggregate Freedom Score of 18/100, which categories the country as “Not Free”. In their report on Iran, Freedom House cites antigovernment protests over the worsening economy and corruption as a factor in Iran’s low score. These dynamics have rendered the country prey to the resource trap. Resource traps like those found in oil-rich countries are especially troublesome because their governments are beneficiaries of vast amounts of income that would otherwise come from taxation. Since the government does not depend on tax revenues to remain in power, the will of the people tends to be ignored, which leads to unchecked corruption.

Economic Monitoring

NGOs combating corruption in oil-rich countries work to address how petroleum-based revenues are used to suppress its people. According to Radio Farda, Iran has a record of marginalizing NGOs that attempt to address the exploitation of its citizens. Solving the riddle of resource-trapped countries is a hard task and involves a multitude of tactics. Most of the work done by NGOs in Iran is done through the World Bank’s Economic Monitor program. Monitoring efforts like these where selected topics of interest to Iran and the international community are published provide data useful in liberating countries from their resource traps.

– Spencer Julian
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