US Sanctions Continue Threatening Iranian People’s Right to Health: Envoy

An Iranian envoy to the United Nations has denounced the unilateral coercive measures imposed by the US as a “serious threat” to the nation’s right to health and have access to medicines.

Zahra Ershadi, deputy permanent representative of Iran to the UN, made the remarks on Tuesday at the 76th General Assembly session on global health and foreign policy.

She emphasized that affordable health services as well as life-saving medicines, vaccines and diagnostic technologies should be available to all countries without any discrimination or political considerations.

The need for universal access to high quality and affordable health care is a key priority for international development, she added. Health issues should not be politicized in line with the interests of specific parties.

Referring to the unprecedented health situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Iranian diplomat said cooperation, solidarity and unity are more central than ever, urging the world countries to take the opportunity to promote multilateralism and combat unilateralism in order to focus efforts on addressing this humanitarian crisis for the benefit of all.

She also criticized the United States, along with a handful of other countries that blindly follow Washington’s policies, for imposing restrictive measures, including illegal and oppressive economic sanctions, on a number of states, especially those that are affected by the severe consequences of the coronavirus outbreak.

The United States' inhumane unilateral coercive measures still pose a serious threat to the Iranian people’s right to health and access to essential medicines and medical equipment, Ershadi said.

The Americans claim that unilateral coercive measures do not include foodstuff and medical supplies, but in fact, due to sanctions and the exclusion of countries from the international banking system for financial transfers, it is not possible to have access to these items through existing trade and financial mechanisms, she said.

The envoy further hailed Iran’s significant progress in the field of biotechnology and stem cells, saying that despite unfair sanctions, the country has turned into one of the few producers of the COVID-19 vaccine.

In spite of the Western sanctions, Ershadi noted, the Islamic Republic has hosted millions of Afghan refugees for more than four decades and even vaccinated many of them.

However, international organizations have covered very little of the cost of the services that Iran has provided for the Afghans, she said.

In 2015, Iran and six world states — namely the US, Germany, France, Britain, Russia, and China — signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) which was ratified in the form of UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

However, the US under former president Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the JCPOA in May 2018 and reinstated the anti-Iran sanctions that had been lifted by the accord.

The Trump administration also launched what it called a maximum pressure campaign against Iran, targeting the Iranian nation with the “toughest ever” sanctions.

Although Trump failed to reach its professed goals with his maximum pressure campaign, the sanctions have badly hurt the Iranian population.

The sanctions, preserved under the Joe Biden administration, have restricted the financial channels necessary to pay for basic goods and medicines.

Iran has denounced the unilateral bans as an “economic war”, “economic terrorism”, and “medical terrorism” in recent years.