Tuesday , 4 October 2022

Doctor’s Clinic Shut Down for Treating Patients Free of Charge

Iranwire – A doctor in Iran’s Lorestan province has had his clinic sealed off and his medical license revoked for treating patients for free, IranWire has learned.

After his clinic was abruptly sealed off this week, Rahmanirad plans to pitch a tent and make house calls to the sick and uninsured

Dr. Yaser Rahmanirad had also offered pregnant women referrals for prenatal screening from his clinic in Khorramabad. The Iranian government has recently moved to restrict patients’ checking for fetal abnormalities, as part of a drive to forcibly increase the birth rate.

In early August, IranWire’s Persian team reported that Dr. Rahmanirad was being threatened with suspension by the Social Security Organization for offering poor patients free admission. Lorestan is a comparatively deprived province of Iran and a higher-than-average households are either on the lowest grade of health insurance, or uninsured.

In turn, the clinician had taken to Instagram to denounce the threats, telling would-be patients in the area: “We are actually living in an era where the Islamic government feels its alleged authority is in jeopardy if you visit the sick for free, and tell others to pay just as much as they can.

“They’ve told me I’ll have to close my office next month. I said make whatever mistake you want; I’ll pitch a tent on the edge of the city and go and visit the poor. I’m not paying attention to their threat to revoke my license, because it isn’t within their remit.”

Not two weeks after this exchange, Rahmanirad posted again to say a group of security agents, who did not identify themselves, had come and sealed the clinic until further notice on the orders of “judicial authorities”.

Repeating his promise to pitch a tent on the margins and become a roving healer, Rahmanirad he would tend to the “mentally injured” as well as the sick, “whose blight is the suffocation, tyranny, micro-management of everything, and structural corruption of the Islamic system”.

Speaking to IranWire in the aftermath, the doctor said: “My feeling is that the pressure on me came because of my posts on Instagram, encouraging screening and offering free admission. The insurance division had no right to close the premises, so two soldiers came and did it instead.”

He added that he was worried about punitive legal action for other decisions he made as a doctor: “I prescribed methadone to an addict who later died. The Lorestan forensic specialist has written that I am ‘five per cent guilty’. I assume they put pressure on the medical examiner to blame me.”

Separately, a source close to the case has told IranWire that Rahmanirad’s license was revoked as part of the recent action. The institution responsible, reportedly, was the IRGC.

In the run-up to the threats Rahmanirad received, they added, a group of conservative, pro-hijab residents in Lorestan had contacted local authorities to complain he was giving women advice on prenatal screening. They had gone as far as to sign a group “affidavit” again him, describing themselves as “witnesses”.

The Ministry of Health issued new guidelines to health centers in June, barring medical professionals from advising pregnant women to undergo screening for birth defects. It also said women aged under 35 or with no history of genetic disorders in the family need not be screened.

Dr. Yaser Rahmanirad trained at Shiraz University of Medical Sciences in the 2000s. Despite attaining top marks at university, his posts critical of the government saw him arrested and made to give a forced “confession” to the IRGC-affiliated Fars News Agency in order to continue his studies.

Later, as a company doctor contracted by the Haft-Tappeh Sugar Company, he publicly supported the workers’ strikes that erupted ahead of the firm’s disastrous privatization in 2015, and was fired as a consequence. He then moved to Khorramabad and set up the clinic. To this day, he says, Haft-Tappeh owes him 50 million tomans in back-pay.