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EghtesadOnline: President Hassan Rouhani has vowed to keep on track a national plan for major health reforms, despite a strained budget.

"The Health Reform Plan is alive and will resolutely continue on its path," IRNA quoted the president as saying in his speech to the Festival of Health Facilities Construction in Tehran on Tuesday.

The health program initiated during the early months of Rouhani's first administration is aimed at lowering the cost of treatment, improving the quality of services in public hospitals and offering physicians incentives to work in disadvantaged and remote regions.

Promoting natural childbirth and providing financial support to needy patients and those diagnosed with virulent and special diseases are also among the goals of the initiative.

"Despite the sharp fall in oil revenues, the implementation of Health Reform Plan topped the government's agenda during its first term," he said.

The newly reelected president first came to office in 2013 on a pledge to have economic sanctions removed. They had targeted key sectors of the oil-based Iranian economy.

Rouhani's assumption of office nearly coincided with a nosedive in oil prices.

He moved to deliver on his promise on sanctions by engaging in negotiations with major powers that produced a historic nuclear deal 18 months later in July 2015.

The pact has been in effect since January 2016 to ease sanctions in exchange for scaling back Tehran's nuclear work.

"The first step required on the path toward the resolution of the country's problems was to deal with the issue of sanctions ... The country ran into problems supplying medical equipment, medicines and pharmaceutical raw materials due to sanctions," he said.

But the moderate head of state and his team of negotiators have come under harsh criticism from conservative rivals who claim too many concessions were granted to the western side that has failed to ease the country's economic transactions with the world.

"The JCPOA would not have been accomplished had foreign minister [Mohammad Javad Zarif] backed down in the face of all those insults and strong words," he said.


Hassan Rouhani Iran government Iran health reforms