Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei cried for healthcare workers on television on Sunday, December 20. However, it was all an act to distract people from the ten months that the ruling system has spent lying about and mishandling the pandemic.
His hollow words and fake tears do not change the fact that Iranian healthcare workers have been in an impossible situation for the best part of a year, lacking the resources to fully cope with the sheer number of patients and not getting the support from the government in the form of a lockdown to slow the spread.
In fact, we will now examine comments from the healthcare workers and state-run media to show just how dire the situation has been.
Hamdeli daily run by ‘moderate figures’ wrote on the same day about the severe lack of nursing staff, which is due in part to over 60,000 of them have contracted coronavirus and 100 have lost their lives to it. Nonetheless, this calamity is mostly the result of the authorities refusing to allocate the money to hire enough nurses to meet global minimums in the first place.
“Nothing has been done for the nurses. All the promises and support are on paper. Even before the coronavirus outbreak, we were lagging in terms of the number of nurses. During the Covid-19 outbreak, this shortage of nurses became worse,” the daily quoted Home of Nurses secretary Mohammad Sharifi Moghadam as saying.
On the other hand, a nurse told Farhikhtegan media outlets about their dire conditions. “We have many problems. You mean to tell me the country’s officials don’t’ know the troubles nurses face?… We face discrimination… we are struggling with our livelihoods and we can’t manage with 20-30 million [rials ($80-120)]. We don’t have job security… with have much bigger problems, but who is listening?” the media wrote on December 20.
In fact, state-run television reported on Thursday that nurses have to “work at two or three hospitals” to earn a living.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began in Iran, nurses have only become angrier at the government and the mullahs fear that the people would take this rage to the street. That’s why Khamenei made the live televised speech without prior notice because he wanted to undercut public anger by blaming others for the problems. He had many chances to do something real for healthcare workers but refused. He didn’t even give them all the money he promised to tackle Covid-19.
Even he knows that his comments are coming too late to help healthcare workers and will not improve the current conditions.