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Iran Medical Professionals Report Shortage, High Prices Of Imported Equipment

A hospital in Iran. File photo

Medical professionals in Iran say prices of imported medical equipment have risen 4 to 5 times in the last few months, Mehr news agency reported on Monday May 27.

Vahid Karimi, the secretary of Iranian Radiology Association told Mehr that the price of laboratory equipment have risen up to five fold.

The Iranian currency has depreciated more than fourfold in the last 18 months against major currencies, mainly due to U.S. sanctions.

Meanwhile, Mohammad Ali Boroumand, the secretary of Iranian Pathology Association told the agency that although the government allocated subsidized, cheaper foreign currency for importing materials used at laboratories, "the equipment and parts for laboratories are not included in the low exchange rate purchases and this has caused a rise in the price of parts, so that a part which was available at 90 million rials (roughly $800 on average) last year, has reached 360 million rials ($3300)."

Part of the rise in the price of medical equipment like other goods is that those who got low-rate dollars at 42,000 rials per U.S. dollar from the government for importing the equipment sell their imports at the market rate which currently is more than three times the government rate, pocketing the difference.

Meanwhile, Mehr reported a shortage of batteries for pace-makers, as well as laboratory diagnostic test kits in Iran, adding that the shortage has caused concern on the part of lab technicians and patients. Some laboratories use smuggled kits that may be sub-standard.

The Police Chief in Sistan and Baluchistan Province told Mehr news agency that his officers have seized 1.575 billion rials ($13,000) worth of smuggled medical equipment in the province. This includes 4,500 sheets of radiology film, he said.

Meanwhile, a Food and Medicine Organization official, told Mehr that the shortage and high prices of medical equipment is partly caused by the fact that officials use the budget allocated for the purchase of medical equipment to acquire other things. The official did not elaborate who exactly diverts funds and for what purposes.