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Documentary Photography Review | 14th October 2017

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Children, Cancer and the Crab of Sanctions

Farhad Berahman The Crab of Sanctions

The real victims of the escalating economic sanctions imposed on Iran are ordinary people and not the men of power accused of being in search of Nuclear Bombs. Although US and European Union claimed that the sanctions would not include Humanitarian Aid, a glance at the real immediate outcomes makes one wonder what these powers really mean by Humanitarianism.

And among people, children suffering from cancer and other so-­‐called incurable diseases have been as always the most innocent, vulnerable and thus heart-­‐breaking group first hit by the evil appearance of this vile crab of sanctions on our horizons due to the shortage of medicines and other medical supplies.

But the story doesn’t end there. The crab’s sharp claws grabbed other patients as well as children and adults suffering from Cancer.

In reality, with the dramatic free fall in the value of Iranian currency as the result of not only sanctions but harsh global bans against Iran’s Banking system and Cargo, the price of medicines has increased 3-­‐6 times. Thus, for the majority of people they are now like luxury goods, hardly if not impossible to afford.

In short, the overall outcome of the present situation is that the pharmaceutical companies can neither buy the ready-­‐made medicines nor their basic substances necessary for their production inside the country. Life-­‐promoting and life-­‐saving medicines ranging from a common drug like Tylenol, to prenatal Vitamins, and what is needed in treatment of cancerous cells are as scarcely found as spotting water in Hell. Import of Antibiotics (those which are not produced inside the country) has been decreased by 20.7%, which has resulted in raising the prices up to 308%.

To make it worse, the impact of the severe sanctions imposed under the pretense of hindering Iran to obtain nuclear armaments extends to the import of advanced medical technologies such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), and other vital medical machineries is making doctors, now totally dependent on them for diagnosis, almost paralyzed in helping and saving the sick. According to a member of The Mahak Society to support Children with cancer, one of the most active non-­‐governmental organizations in helping children suffering from cancer in Tehran: “The main problem facing Iran today is less related to non-­‐availability of medicines than to limitations imposed on international banking transfers and convertibility issues as a whole. There is no doubt that as long as financial sanctions are as severe as they are now, shortages of pharmaceutical products will undoubtedly continue.”

The Mahak Society, have been doing their best to deal with this shortage of necessary therapeutic drugs for Cancer during the past couple of years. The lack of these medicines for some of the children diagnosed with different types and stages of Cancers (from leukemia to skin and bone carcinomas) means a certain increase in death, which could otherwise be avoided. Shortage of medicines, their skyrocketing prices, together with the prolonged delays in receiving what they are entitled to receive on behalf of their young patients puts the lives of these children at a great risk.

Under these circumstances, what can the desperate mothers; fathers of these children and the medical staff treating them do other than to appeal to the higher spiritual world for humanitarian aid?