There is a universal consensus on the right to health being a fundamental human right and a prerequisite to an adequate standard of living. At international and national levels, multiple obligations are determined for states to realize this right. This study examines whether the current means for the protection of the right to health are sufficient in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and what the gaps and barriers to equal enjoyment of the right to health are and how they can be removed. To answer these questions, a qualitative case study involving a structured document review of international and Iran’s laws and policy documents on the right to health, and the academic literature addressing the situation of Iranians’ enjoyment of the right to health and its underlying determinants was undertaken. Different human rights assessment tools were used to evaluate the country’s conduct in realizing the right to health. A review of Iran’s laws and practice indicate that Iran intends to move forward in the realization of the right to health. In recent years, Iran has made considerable achievements in improving its population’s main health indicators. However, there are disparities in the health level of citizens of under-developed provinces and some vulnerable groups of the Iranian population that should be removed. International isolation and economic sanctions and the country’s inappropriate resource management have adversely affected the welfare of Iran’s population. Although Iran has promoted universal health insurance, made plans for supporting the poor, tried to keep hospital service fees as low as possible and increased its share of health services costs, healthcare is not affordable for the poorest proportion of population. Iran’s health system lacks an efficient referral system and suffers from excessive use of services resulting from induced demands and a lack of clinical guidelines. Moreover, the consumption of subsidized health services is not regulated. This situation has increased people’s actual share of health service costs. To tackle epidemiologic and demographic transitions and the growing burden of chronic diseases and to improve the realization of people’s right to health, this country should change its priorities in regard to the allocation of health system resources from excessive spending on advanced health services to health prevention and protection services, which are beneficial for a larger proportion of population. Removing existing inequities in the distribution of health sector resources and facilities and bringing disadvantaged groups up to a mainstream level are necessary. Policies on improving the health of the population should be a part of a comprehensive plan on the welfare of population and the empowerment of vulnerable groups. In addition, the government should implement appropriate measures to protect the health of citizens. Insufficient control on the agricultural sector, food industry, sanitation in cities, health of the environment, and disappearing drinking water resources endanger the health of Iranians. It is crucial to provide appropriate means for ensuring transparency and accountability of the government about its healthcare and welfare policies and to provide remedies and redress for every individual or group whose rights are not recognized.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Iran, Right to Health, Health System, Health Law, Health Policy, Economic Sanctions, Children’s Rights, Women’s Rights, Human Rights
Promotor M.A.J.M. Buijsen (Martin) , A.P. den Exter (André)
Publisher Erasmus University Rotterdam
ISBN 978-94-6361-235-7
Persistent URL
Note For copyright reasons there is a partial embargo for this dissertation
Kokabisaghi, F. (2019, June 6). Right to Health; the Application of International Laws in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Retrieved from