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Tehran, Iran

By Fatima Umar

Iranians are taking to social media to protest against the political leaders of Iran over shortage of Analogue Insulin pens and test strips. Around 5 Million of Iranian’s suffer from Diabetes from an adult population of 57 Million, and out of those 600,000 require daily insulin dosage. Looking at the facts arriving from Iran, it is almost 8 months that Iranian’s are short on Insulin and by now this situation is becoming life threatening for diabetic patients. It is important to note that Iran is sufficient with Insulin production but lacks Insulin pens, specifically required for Analogue Insulin.

After having a factual outlook at the Insulin plight in Iran, let’s dig into a political analysis of this situation.

Getting started with how Iranian’s perceive this shortage, first to come is the resentment regarding incompetency of Rouhani government mis-managing the issue, furthermore many Iranian’s still plea for authorities to take this lack of Insulin as a serious issue which requires immediate response. Along with this, a widespread view with Iranian’s is that Iran’s regime is primarily focusing on building arms rather than building health resources for its citizens.

The Iranian government provides contradictory justifications to the situation. On one side they deny the fact that there is any sort of shortage, while on the opposite side they do agree to the existence of scantiness of Insulin, by blaming the USA for the reasons. Another reason they put forward is smuggling to neighboring states.

Rouhani government has been critical of the US, blaming it for shortage of Insulin because of US sanctions. It is to be noted that US sanctions never include medicines on its list. Yet, Tehran is invoking that due to increased sanctions and daily rising surge of Covid cases and its implications, Iran is draining down financially. Linking the economic phenomenon, sanctions have led inflation, collapse of Iranian currency as well as decrease in foreign currency reserves. All this leads to delay and difficulty in timely payment and arrival of medicines to Iran, with its already Covid-ridden economy.

Another perspective which Iranian’s claim is the smuggling of drugs, especially to Iraq. While critics of the Tehran regime claim that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps are the ones smuggling drugs and medicines outside the country for their own benefits.

From the previous governments in the US, it can be viewed that Democrats have had an apparently softer corner for Iran, keeping in view the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as Iran Nuclear Deal during Obama’s tenure. On the contrary, Republican’s like Bush have named Iran as part of ‘Axis of Evil’, while Trump cancelled the Deal in the beginning of his tenure. Iran favors Biden’s presidency for the USA, and not Republican rule. Whereas, Trump’s inclination towards Netanyahu with helping Tel Aviv get recognition from Muslim states is another bone of contention between Washington and Tehran.

With the explanation of Insulin crisis in Iran and its possible reasons, it is yet to be witnessed how far will the Rouhani government prolong the sufferings of Iranian’s and what shall be the global response to the rising cries of Iran’s diabetic population. Or is it just another attempt to get the un-recognized, locally produced and internationally banned Iranian Insulin, with raw materials coming from China, a global recognition?

Fatima Umar is Research Assistant at Policy East