The impact of international economic sanctions on Iranian cancer healthcare

Shohreh Shahabi, Hooman Fazlalizadeh, Jennifer Stedman, Linus Chuang, Ahmad Shariftabrizi, Regina Ram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Background: In 2012, Iranian's economy collapsed under strain from sanctions instituted to stop Iran from violating the International Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Sanctions have indirectly led to serious healthcare concerns, specifically cancer treatment. This is the first report to evaluate Iranian cancer healthcare while under international economic sanctions. Methods: Data and information were identified by searches of MEDLINE, PubMed, and references from relevant articles using the search terms: "Iran", "health policy", "sanctions", "ethics", and "cancer". Articles published in the English language between 1966 and present were included, based on relevance to sanctions or the specific case of sanctions in Iran. Results: The Program of Action for Cancer Therapy evaluated Iran's National Cancer Control Program (NCCP), reporting it has substantial deficits, including prevention, diagnosis/treatment, palliative care, monitoring, and technology, with a serious drug shortage for cancer care. Sanctions have exemptions for medicines and food, but lead to disruption of health services through complications in transportation, transferring currencies or lack of money. Conclusion: There is increasing evidence that sanctions harm vulnerable populations, while blocking globalization and not creating political or social change quickly. Improvement of Iran's NCCP is not feasible, and the health of cancer patients will continue to decline while the sanctions are in effect. The solution is complex, but a modern and innovative approach to diplomacy, which includes human rights, is necessary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1309-1318
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Policy
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • International sanctions
  • Iran
  • Oncology


Dive into the research topics of 'The impact of international economic sanctions on Iranian cancer healthcare'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this