The Iranian regime has always claimed that it is unable to provide medicine and medical facilities to the Iranian people due to a lack of cash or the economic impact of international sanctions. Therefore, the regime refuses to employ more nurses to deal with the current pandemic, arguing that the current economic reality makes it unaffordable. Information received from inside the regime shows that during the first three months of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Iran, the regime continued to send cash to pay its overseas mercenaries in Syria and Lebanon.
In the days when people are hoping for health care from nurses and medical staff in their white outfits during the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of deaths in recent weeks, a new wave of nurses are migrating or fleeing to other countries due to the pressures of working without basic PPE (personal protective equipment), lack of wages, and limited job security has begun.
Instead of funneling funds into the medical community during this international pandemic, the regime has chosen to sacrifice the Iranian people to maintain their military and foreign policy initiatives.
“The migration of nurses has increased significantly in recent months, and more than a thousand nurses have applied to leave the country in the same period,” said Armin Zareian, chairman of the Tehran Nursing Board. This immigration application has listed multiple reasons for wanting to leave, from fatigue and exhaustion from 8 months of continuous and round-the-clock work due to the coronavirus outbreak, non-payment of their salaries for several months, and the use of temporary employment, ie 89-day employment of nurses, which does not allow them to enjoy insurance and many other benefits related to being full-time employees.
Regarding one of the main reasons for the migration of nurses, Zareian said: “89-day temporary employment instead of formal employment is one of the main reasons for the migration of nurses because many promises have been made in the field of nurses’ livelihood, but so far no effective action has been taken.” If you want to understand the depth of the tragedy in this regard, pay attention to what the state-run newspaper Sepid says:
“89-day nurses are an objective example of the exploitation of the nursing community. Under the so-called 89-day contract, these nurses are neither insured nor on leave and are temporarily employed with the lowest salaries. They hired about 3,000 nurses and fired almost all of them after three months.”
Comparison of Iranian and American nurses’ incomes
In the United States, where COVID-19 is rampant these days, a nurse is paid $4,000 monthly for seven hours of work per day, but in Iran, a nurse is paid about $120 for 10 to 12 hours of work, up to 20 hours a day.
“People should know that several-month of salary arrears were paid, but in reality, our one-month receipt is not in accordance with the law. For example, if our workload is about $190, instead of 190 per month, they have calculated $25 to 50 per month, which is just equal to our one month of our salary.” Mina Shah-Hossein told the state newspaper “Arman Melli.” She continued: “Our hearts are with the people and we are living every moment and every second to save them, but they must also know that our capacity has a limit and these fatiguing circumstances are really having an effect on the death toll and our ability to provide quality care to our patients.”
Amount of salaries paid to nurses in Iran
Maryam Hazrati, Deputy Minister of Nursing of the Ministry of Health, referring to the number of nurses ‘salaries in February 2019 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, said: “In the private sector, nurses’ salaries were 1.5 million Tomans in overtime and in the public sector, 2.5 million Tomans in overtime. The average wage has been a maximum of 800 tomans. (According to media reports, the overtime was not paid by the regime until a year later). However, in a completely optimistic study, the average salary of each nurse does not exceed the average of $ 200 per month.” Keep in mind that the regime was underpaying nurses and making them wait for months to receive their salaries before their workload doubled and tripled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On the other hand, IRGC mercenaries are being paid significantly more than these critical healthcare workers.
Amounts paid to IRGC mercenaries in Syria and Lebanon
According to information released by the Iranian opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in July 2016, the average monthly salary of IRGC mercenaries in Syria is about $1,000. The amount paid to foreign IRGC mercenaries varied from $800 to $1,500, and the average amount was about $1,000. At that time, there were about 70,000 foreign IRGC mercenaries in Syria, so that the amount of salaries paid to non-Syrian IRGC mercenaries in Syria alone amounted to about $70 million a month. Despite the COVID-19 crisis, remittances to Lebanon, although down 50%, have never stopped. The Revolutionary Guards currently provides $700 million a year in funding to Lebanon’s Hezbollah. (Prior to the sanctions, the amount was over $1 billion.)
There are nurses who do not go home during the week and cannot see their children, spouses, and parents, which in addition to fatigue, causes an increasing number of mental crises and cases of depression.
“I have been working in the ICU Corona for seven months now. I have had Corona twice. The second time I wanted to go, because I could not see my family after seven months. During these seven months, I did not see my mother or my brother’s sister. I saw that my child was infected. My husband was infected,” said one nurse speaking out on Iranian state television.
Per capita and standards in Iran
Regarding the statistics of nurses in Iran, the Deputy Minister of Health in January 2020 said that the number of nurses per 10,000 people in the population in the country was about 19, which is much lower than the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO). According to the World Health Organization standard, there should be 50 nurses per 10,000 people working in medical centers and hospitals. Based on 19 nurses per 10,000 people, the number of nurses in all of Iran (including a population of about 80 million) is estimated at 152,000. The total salary of nurses in Iran is about $30 million a month. Meanwhile, the amount paid to the mercenaries in Syria is about $70 million a month. Clearly, if funds were redirected to the medical community in Iran, more nurses could be hired to take the weight off the healthcare community, while also addressing backpay arrears for current nurses. Instead, foreign policy has left the Iranian medical community with a limited number of critical nurses during a medical emergency. Nurses are leaving their roles due to conditions, which makes it likely that this situation in the medical community will continue to worsen.
At the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, these deficiencies were not very visible. Instead, what the Iranian people saw was the 24-hour sacrifices of nurses who did not see their children, spouses, and parents for days and weeks for fear of infecting their families. In the third wave, an outbreak of more than 4,000 people has negatively impacted the medical community. After days of exhaustion and fatigue, the medical staff has reached its peak in terms of exhaustion and illness, thus leaving many of them unable to work.
Thirty thousand nurses infected with corona
Mohammad Sharifi Moghaddam, Secretary-General of the Nurses’ House, says about the situation of nurses: “The days when Iran experiences the third peak of the coronavirus and a huge flood of patients enter hospitals full of patients.” To date, at least 30,000 nurses have been diagnosed with Covid 19. “This is very dangerous for people, and in other countries, nurses have ‘special vehicles have been set up to solve this problem,” said the secretary-general of the Nurses’ House, noting that in Iran, nurses go home by public transport after the shift is over, thus potentially infecting others as they make their way home to get a short period of rest before returning to work. “Nurses get the lowest pay today compared to other occupations, and they have rightly said that their meager income is their blood money,” the veteran nurse continued. Therefore, due to the martyrdom, illness, and grounding of a number of nursing staff, the number of nurses per capita in the country compared to other countries, even a country like Iraq, is in the lowest rank. A critical situation in the Iranian healthcare system has only been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the inhumane choices being made by the regime that sacrifices nurses to their military objectives in other nations.