Health Care System
Iran's population has grown dramatically since the 1979 revolution to over 70 million, but social infrastructure has not kept up with the demands and changing demographics. Although the number of graduates in the health care fields has grown significantly, the distribution of medical services has not equitably reached all corners of the country. In this respect rural health care delivery has suffered inordinately compared to urban settings — a phenomenon that was inherited from the decades prior to the 1979 revolution. In recent years, innovative ideas have been proposed, such as the recent implementation of the "Family Physician Program" (FPP). One main stumbling block in Iran's FPP is that physicians are not trained for the challenges of working in rural areas, and they are still not reaching a great number of people. To overcome this problem, a short mandatory course is arranged at the beginning of the contract with participating physicians, with a continuous professional development program recently expanded by means of internet-based virtual learning. Nevertheless, financing remains a great obstacle to the FPP program and it does not solve access-to-care issues globally.
By this token, a comprehensive universal/national health care policy that encompasses health education, delivery, and reimbursement system needs to be developed and implemented to improve on past achievements and to preemptively solve the complex future problems, which were caused by the web of bewildering bureaucracy and egregious deficiencies that have prevented the equitable access to acute and preventive care in Iran for decades. The new system should entail a non-profit government-funded system that has the advancement of health care delivery as its modus operandi and provide a utilitarian algorithm that will incentivise providers by rewarding quality of care versus quantity per capitation. The system should draw on the best existing models around the world and improve upon the successful systems already in place in other countries.
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