Country Listing

Iran Table of Contents




A worker sprays to rid area of mosquitoes during a malaria-eradication campaign
Courtesy World Health Organization

Medical Personnel and Facilities

According to the Iranian Medical Association (IMA), in 1986 there were 12,300 physicians and 1,700 dentists in Iran. Medical support personnel of all kinds were in short supply, with the total number of nurses estimated at around 7,000. There were about 550 hospitals throughout the country, with a total of 62,100 beds.

The regional distribution of medical personnel was uneven. The ratio of patients to physicians in 1986 averaged more than 1,000 to 1 for Tehran, Mashhad, Esfahan, and Shiraz; more than 2,000 to 1 in all other large cities (with more than 100,000 in population); and more than 4,500 to 1 elsewhere. An estimated 70 percent of all specialists practiced in Tehran.

Even before the Revolution there was a high rate of emigration of physicians, most of whom settled in the United States. In March 1976 when there were 12,196 physicians practicing in Iran, there were an estimated 10,000 other Iranian physicians practicing abroad. During the revolution there was a major exodus of physicians; the IMA has estimated that about 7,000--40 percent of the total--have left the country since the Revolution, contributing to a severe shortage.

The Islamic Republic has sought to increase the number of all medical personnel and to expand medical facilities. Health clinics and dispensaries have been constructed in lower income neighborhoods of the large cities, in small towns, and in villages. The medical schools at Tehran and Shiraz universities have developed programs for training paramedical personnel, and more students have been admitted to medical schools. Nevertheless, the facilities for training physicians remained inadequate, and fewer than 750 doctors were graduated from medical schools between 1980 and 1986. The IMA has said that Iran needs a total of at least 50,000 physicians to provide the whole population with minimally adequate health care.

Data as of December 1987