Iran’s health minister says unilateral sanctions imposed on the country by the administration of US President Donald Trump are inhumane and cause suffering and pain for people.
Addressing the 73rd World Health Assembly through video-conference on Monday, Saeed Namaki said, “Any measure or policy, which would prevent cooperation among governments in the health sector, is irresponsible and inhumane.”
“There is no doubt that unilateral sanctions constitute an obstacle and are an inhumane measure, which brings about suffering and pain [for people],” the Iranian minister said, adding, “The United States must be held to account for the severe sanctions that have put the lives of Iranian people in jeopardy.”
He hailed the leading role of the World Health Organization (WHO) in supporting the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic and emphasized that the body deserves to be supported, not punished and criticized by certain countries.
Trump has claimed that the WHO had failed to disclose or respond to “credible” information in December that suggested the virus could be spread through human-to-human transmission.
He also accused the agency of siding with China and reliance on Chinese data, blaming it for “all sorts of false information about transmission and mortality” that was circulated amid initial reports.
Speaking in a news briefing in Washington on April 15, the US president halted funding to the WHO, accusing the international body of mishandling the deadly flu-like pathogen.
“Today I’m instructing my administration to halt funding of the World Health Organization while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus,” Trump said.
Republican US lawmakers then threw their weight behind Trump’s decision to halt the WHO’s funding, insisting that unless its director general resigns Washington should not resume payments to the international body.
Addressing the WHO’s main annual meeting on Monday, US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar slammed the UN health agency’s “failure” to obtain and provide vital information on COVID-19 that could have reined in the pandemic and saved many lives.
“We must be frank about one of the primary reasons this outbreak spun out of control: there was a failure by this organization to obtain the information that the world needed, and that failure cost many lives,” Azar said.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the Iranian minister stressed the importance of boosting global solidarity and cooperation to contain the coronavirus pandemic, saying it is necessary that all countries have access to medicines and vaccine at an appropriate time and price.
He added that Iran has succeeded in decreasing the coronavirus death toll due to its extensive measures in the public health sector based on the approach that calls for the involvement of “the whole government and the whole society.”
The Iranian minister noted that some 78 million people have been screened for the coronavirus in the country in the first phase with the help of the strong infrastructure of Iran’s primary health care (PHC) system while over 22 million high-risk people have also been screened so far in the second phase.
Iran increased its laboratory capacities in outpatient clinics with the main focus being on screening the patients, social distancing, and timely treatment, and in doing this, the country gradually reopened businesses in order to prevent more harm to the country’s economy, he explained.
Iran’s Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said on Monday that 2,294 new infections were confirmed in the past 24 hours, raising the total to 122,492.
Jahanpour added that 1,760 of the new cases were outpatients and people who had been in close contact with those infected.
More than 95,600 of those hospitalized with the virus had recovered and been discharged.