EghtesadOnline: A tomic Energy Organization of Iran's Spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi has announced that Austrian banks have allocated €200 million worth of finance for equipping Iran’s first nuclear hospital.
Kamalvandi noted that the Austrian side has agreed to provide a major part of finance for the construction of the nuclear hospital, Mehr News Agency reported.
“One of the most important stages of getting the project underway was its financial aspect. The hospital needs €200 million worth of equipment, which is being provided by the Austrian banks,” he said.
The AEOI spokesman added that after the hospital comes on stream, the fund will be repaid to the Austrian side from the hospital’s revenue, Financial Tribune reported.
One of the most outstanding projects of Iran’s nuclear industry, which became feasible after the signing of the 2015 nuclear deal, is the construction of a specialized nuclear hospital, which is the first in the Islamic Republic and said to be the largest of its kind in the Middle East.
In October 2015, the plan for building a 1,000-bed nuclear hospital in Velayat Park in southwest Tehran for the treatment of patients in need of nuclear medicines was launched after a memorandum of understanding was signed between AEOI and the Health Ministry.
According to AEOI Chairman Ali Akbar Salehi, over a million patients in Iran are using locally-produced radiomedicines and the country is the only producer of such medicines in the Middle East.
As ISNA reported back then, the nuclear medicine hospital will be equipped with modern technology to provide radiotherapy services.
A variety of centrifuges will also be installed to diagnose and determine the severity and treatment of diseases, including cancers, heart diseases, gastrointestinal, endocrine, neurological disorders and other abnormalities.
As nuclear medicine can pinpoint molecular activity in the body, it has the potential to identify the early onset of diseases and a patient’s immediate response to therapeutic interventions. The main objective of the project is to promote the application of radioisotopes in medical care, the report added.
Health Minister Hassan Qazizadeh Hashemi said back then that the hospital was expected to be completed in 48 months and that it would be fully equipped within three years.
Salehi noted that after the signing of the MoU, the $300 million hospital will be one of its most prestigious projects and once operational, there would be no need for patients to seek treatment abroad.
“Our duty is to provide the public with radiotherapy at home instead of traveling abroad,” he said.
150 Nuclear Medicine Centers Across Country
Iran has 150 nuclear medicine centers across the country, which provide services to over one million patients annually.
Nuclear medicine is a specialty involving the application of radioactive substances in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Nuclear medicine scans are usually conducted by a radiographer.
Radiomedicine, due to their short shelf-life, must be used quickly. At times, the medicine should be transported within a couple of hours for it to be effective. A nuclear hospital will enhance the quality of treatment services.
A common goal of the 150 nuclear medicine centers is to offer patients better tools to fight different types of cancers. Patients receiving treatment should be mostly hospitalized for a week or more to complete their course of radio-medication.
The Health Ministry’s Drugs Supervision Office said in 2016 that 12 radiopharmaceuticals, including radioactive iodine-131 and tansium 99M, were being produced domestically by the Iranian Pars-Isotope Company, while 30 to 40 medications were imported.
"In addition to their therapeutic properties, radiopharmaceuticals can be used as diagnostic agents and radiotracers to diagnose dysfunction in body tissues," said Mehdi Pirsalehi, who heads the office.
Services provided at some of the centers include treatment for thyroid cancer, hyperthyroidism and neuro-endocrine tumors with iodine-131, treatment of bone metastases with strontium-89 and samarium-153 and prevention of severe inflammation of the joints in patients with advanced rheumatoid problem with the help of phosphorus-32.
Radiopharmaceuticals are also used in PET scan. Positron Emission Tomography is a type of nuclear medicine imaging. In March 2013, the PET scan device was used for the first time in Iran at Tehran’s Masih Daneshvari Hospital.
A nuclear medicine and molecular imaging research center opened in the southern Bushehr Province in early 2016 to provide access to patients in the southern parts of the country.
New methods to treat lymphatic, liver and advanced prostate cancers are being studied at the center in collaboration with European and American research centers.
The nuclear medicine center at Namazi Hospital in Shiraz, Fars Province is another active center in the southern region. It is equipped with SPECT Gamma Camera, a device used to image gamma radiation emitting radioisotopes.
Annually, the center provides nuclear treatment services to more than 8,000 patients from the southern provinces of Fars, Bushehr, Hormozgan, Kohgilouyeh-Boyerahmad and Khuzestan.
In a message on the occasion of the implementation of the nuclear deal Iran signed with world powers on Jan. 16, 2016, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Salehi said significant measures will be taken to turn Iran into a radiopharmaceutical manufacturing hub in the region in the post-sanctions era.
"Plans have been developed to turn the Islamic Republic of Iran into a radiopharmaceutical manufacturing hub in the Middle East with the lifting of the sanctions,” he said.
€1b Finance Deal With Oberbank
In what was the first finance deal clinched with cautious European banks after the implementation of JCPOA, Iran signed an agreement worth €1 billion with Austria's Oberbank in Vienna on Sept. 21, 2017.
The Austrian finance is set to be used for the implementation of civil and production projects in Iran, the Central Bank of Iran reported on its website after the deal was signed.
Karafarin Bank, Saman Bank, Bank Refah, Bank Mellat, Tejarat Bank, Bank Melli Iran, Bank of Industry and Mine, Bank Sepah, Middle East Bank, Export Development Bank of Iran, EN Bank, Bank Keshavarzi and Parsian Bank act as the agent banks for providing public and private sectors with financial support.
2 More Hospitals With Austria's VAMED
In March 2016, an agreement was signed between the Austrian company VAMED and Iran’s Social Security Organization, based on which the former committed to build a 320-bed hospital in Shiraz, the capital of Fars Province.
“The project has been finalized and construction work will start in the near future,” said Mohammad Ali Hemmati, SSO's deputy for treatment, at a press conference in Tehran last February.
“So far, Iranian engineers and experts working in the Austrian firm have helped us build Milad Hospital in Tehran and 80 other hospitals affiliated to SSO, as well as 280 outpatient health centers across the country.”
VAMED is a global provider for hospitals and other facilities in the healthcare sector. A private sector provider of rehab services, it covers all areas of healthcare, from prevention and wellness to acute care, rehabilitation and nursing.
"The company has constructed 720 hospitals across Europe. We have also planned a 320-bed hospital in Tabriz, East Azarbaijan Province in cooperation with the firm," Hemmati said.
The total budget required for implementing the two projects in Shiraz and Tabriz has been estimated at $212 million.