The Head of the Medical Council of Iran stated on Thursday that healthcare professionals should not “be allowed to leave the country easily”.
The remarks by Dr. Mohammad Raeeszadeh follow repeated warnings from many figures in Iran, including lawmakers, that the ever-increasing desire of healthcare professionals to leave the country will cause the healthcare system to collapse.
“The figures for the immigration of doctors are not publicized because they will be misused. Even the departure of one member of the medical community is a loss for us; because we need their expertise,” Dr Raeeszadeh said.
There are no reliable official figures concerning emigration.
Hossein Salami, the commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC), on Tuesday dismissed the alarming reports about the mass emigration of doctors and nurses as “psychological warfare” and “negative propaganda and lies.”
Earlier on December 7, Ali Fadavi, Acting IRGC Commander said the wave of migration by doctors and nurses is “planned by the enemy” and emphasized, “We are aware of each and every doctor and nurse who left. We know what hospital they go to and how much they get paid.”
An Iranian parliament member, Masoud Pezeshkian, warned of an imminent shortage of healthcare professionals as a result of growing emigration. He emphasized that the primary reason for the exodus is financial.
A report released on Tuesday by Iran Open Data (IOD) revealed that the number of doctors who leave Iran to work in more prosperous countries outweighs the number of new doctors by 30% on an annual basis.
Officials attribute the exodus to poor economic condition, but there is also a political component of lack of freedoms and persecution.
In July, it was reported that Iran’s Association of Medical Academic Societies had warned against the recent forced retirement and dismissal of over 100 doctors from residency admissions boards.
Reformist Ham-Mihan newspaper reported in July that most of the doctors who were forced to retire or were removed from boards had signed statements supporting protests.
During the “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests last year, doctors and nurses condemned the use of ambulances for the transport of detainees by security forces, as well as their use of shotgun “birdshots” that blinded or injured hundreds of protesters.
Moreover, they stated that they could not comply with authorities’ demands to deny services to women who defy hijab restrictions.