Iran sacks first woman minister after she dared to criticise health policies
Sacking linked to criticism of poor medicine budgetShe said luxury cars were bigger importation priority


18:06 GMT, 27 December 2012

Marzieh Vahid-Dastjerdi

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

She said on state television: 'Medicine is more essential than bread.

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

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.

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.