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Iran sacks first woman minister after she dared to criticise health policies

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Dastjerdi questioned whereabouts of dollars allocated for importing medicine

The first woman minister in the 30-year history of Iran's Islamic republic has been sacked by its president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

No official reason has been given for the sacking of health minister Marziyeh Vahid Dastjerdi, but the dismissal is being linked to her criticism of the government for failing to budget fairly for the importation of vital medicines.

Last month, Dastjerdi said only a quarter of the $2.4billion set aside for medicine imports had been provided in 2012 and that there was a shortage of foreign currency for the shipments.
She said on state television: 'Medicine is more essential than bread.

'I have heard that luxury cars have been imported with subsidised dollars but I don't know what happened to the dollars that were supposed to be allocated for importing medicine.'

Due to international sanctions against Iran over its nuclear plans, shortages of urgent medicines for treatment of cancer, multiple sclerosis and blood disorders are understood to have become a problem.

Although the sanctions don't directly target medicines, their importation is restricted because of limitations on financial transactions.

Mr Ahmadinejad dismissed her comments, saying her budget requirements had been met.

He appointed Mohammad Hassan Tariqat Monfared as interim health minister, the Reuters news agency reported.

Appointed in 2009, Dastjerdi was the first woman government minister since the Islamic Republic's establishment in 1979.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed health minister Marziyeh Vahid Dastjerdi's comments about a lack of available finance for medicine, saying her budget requirements had been met.

Qualified in nursing and obstetrics, she has written and translated a number of books about women's diseases and calls for a greater role for women in society.

In May, 1999, she addressed a rally in Tehran to protest the ban on wearing the headscarf in the Turkish parliament. She condemned the ban as an affront to Muslims and a human rights crime.

(Courtesy: Daily Mail)
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