Iranian medical professionals at work

Rising Suicide Rate Among Iran’s Young Physicians

Friday, 01/19/2024

An official with the Medical Council of Iran confirmed that 16 cases of suicide have been reported among resident physicians over the past nine months.

Three of the cases happened last week, Babak Shekarchi, Deputy Director of Research and Education in the Medical Council of Iran, told Etemad daily on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Etemad released disturbing information which suggests that the real number of resident physicians committing suicide in Iran could be higher than the number reported.

According to the newspaper, just over the past four months, there have been 14 reports of “early death and suspected suicide” among the young physicians who start their training immediately after graduation.

The Iranian Legal Medicine Organization, which operates as part of the judiciary, refuses to reveal the exact cause of the suspicious deaths of young doctors.

Shekarchi warned that the young trainee doctors who receive low wages are far from financially secure.

In August, Ali Selahshour, representative of the young trainees in Iran’s Medical Council, said those who work in the public health sector receive a monthly payment of at most $280. This can be even less for those who are not married, he added.

As part of the regulations set by Iran’s Ministry of Health, physician residents are also obligated to provide heavy legal collateral.

It is contended that this measure is taken by the ministry in an attempt to prevent young doctors from quitting the residency program and leaving the country for the sake of migration.

Over recent months and following the worsening economic and socio-political conditions in Iran, there have been alarming reports regarding the exodus of healthcare professionals, including doctors.

Back in October, Masoud Pezeshkian, a member of the Iranian parliament, warned of the growing migration of healthcare professionals, adding that this phenomenon could leave the country in a dire shortage.

“Those who have remained are often constrained by low salaries, making it increasingly challenging to maintain their quality of life. With a monthly income equivalent to $200 to $300, many healthcare professionals find it difficult to afford housing and their children's education,” he said.

On December 14, Mohammad Raeeszadeh, the head of Iran’s Medical Council, stressed that healthcare professionals should not “be allowed to leave the country easily.”

“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,” he went on to say.

This is while Iran's government severely represses any union protests, including those of medical professionals. Mohammad Sharifi Moghadam, the Secretary-General of the Nursing Association, announced on Thursday that nurses who took part in union protests have received heavy sentences, with some being suspended from their work for as long as six months.

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