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Healthcare Worker In Iran Discusses Effects Of U.S. Sanctions

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Now let's get a view of how U.S. sanctions are affecting the people of Iran. We spoke earlier today with a health care worker in Tehran. We're not using his name because he fears that talking to an American media outlet could jeopardize his safety. He told us the sanctions regime affects everything.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Its impact has been on all aspects of Iranians' lives. They have problems in buying their usual daily foods. Prices have soared three or four times. They have problems in buying medication. If we want to talk about, for example, in the medical field, most of the drugs are now founding with much higher prices. Some of them cannot be found easily. So it affects their health.

CORNISH: What are you seeing? What does that look like firsthand?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Yeah. For example, in our field, physicians have to prescribe drugs that might be less effective, that might have more side effects. And they are affordable by the people in operations, in surgeries. We have shortage of devices. People must stay longer waiting for their operation, and it affects their health.

CORNISH: You mentioned some equipment. Can you give an example of that?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: For example, orthopedic devices - they were imported from foreign countries, sometimes from European countries. But after the sanctions and problems in banking transfers, now they cannot be imported easily. Sometimes they have to buy, for example, Indian or Chinese equipment, which are lower quality than the European or American brand.

CORNISH: Iranian leaders blame all of this on President Trump for imposing these sanctions. The U.S. president says they're the ones who are responsible for the suffering of the Iranian people. How do people in Tehran talk about this in terms of the politics? Who do you hold responsible?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: People see both sides. From one side, we see everything changed after Trump came to office and withdraw from the nuclear deal. In another side, we see mismanagement and corruption inside the government. So Iranians see both sides. But the much bigger side is this thing that we - they see from Trump's administration. They see, every day, sanctions. People see that the White House always says, we have nothing to do with Iranians.

But we think that maybe the most important part of the sanctions is its impact on Iranians. Maybe authorities, officials haven't been affected that much. They're rich. They're wealthy. They have no problems with inflation or with all the problems. But the Iranian ordinary people who have a limited income - it is very hard for them. They see the impact of the sanctions directly on them.

CORNISH: What's the overall mood in Tehran as all this plays out?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Hopelessness and uncertainty.

CORNISH: Are people trying to leave, and is that something you've considered?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Many people have no choice. And they think - the only thing - I can leave the country. But how can they do that with the huge amount of limitations on Iranians' travelings (ph) and economical limits? They cannot do that. It is very, very difficult for them. And now we see a lot of Iranians who are abroad the country who are evacuating. They cannot do it anymore because of the higher dollar prices. They have to return to the country. It is very difficult situation for them.

CORNISH: Well, thank you so much for speaking with us and sharing your story.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Thanks. Thanks for having me.

CORNISH: That was our conversation with a health care worker in Tehran about how U.S. sanctions affect daily life there. NPR agreed not to use his name because he feared speaking to U.S. media could put him in danger. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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