link As Marie Pryor shuffles along a Mississippi roadside collecting discarded drink cans to sell for a few cents, her breath comes in short puffs caused by a congenital heart defect. The same condition caused her granddaughter’s death earlier this year.Oh those “Evil Bad Mean Iranians” how many Americans will live a longer life because Iran shared it's knowledge with America. Yeah, take Irans' gifts and then let Israel bomb them, it's the "American" way.......
The last place on earth she would look for help is Iran, a country widely regarded in America as the enemy.
A US doctor and a development consultant visited Iran in May to study a primary healthcare system that has cut infant mortality by more than two-thirds since the Islamic revolution in 1979. It is to Iran that one of America’s poorest communities is turning to try to resolve its own health crisis.
Then, in October, five top Iranian doctors, including a senior official at the health ministry in Tehran, were quietly brought to Mississippi to advise on how the system could be implemented there.
The Mississippi Delta has some of the worst health statistics in the country, including infant mortality rates for non-whites at Third World levels. "It’s time to look for a new model,”said Dr Aaron Shirley, one of the state’s leading health campaigners.
The idea of looking for solutions in Iran emerged when James Miller, a consultant based in Mississippi, was called in to advise a rural hospital in financial difficulty. He was shocked to find that the state had the third highest medical expenditure per capita, but came last in terms of outcome.
Miller, managing director of Oxford International Development Group, remembered a conference in Europe where Iranian officials had explained how their country had revolutionised its healthcare system.
Facing shortages of money and trained doctors at the start of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980, the new government launched a system based on community “health houses”, each serving about 1,500 people.
Locals were trained as health workers known as behvarz, who would travel their area, dispensing advice about healthy eating, sanitation and contraception as well as monitoring blood pressure and conditions such as diabetes.
It was a stunning success, reducing child mortality rates by 69% and maternal mortality in rural areas from 300 per 100,000 births to 30. There are now 17,000 health houses in Iran, covering more than 90% of its rural population of 23m. Miller contacted Shirley, who is seen as a community health pioneer in Mississippi and had recently converted a deserted shopping centre in Jackson into a “medical mall” for the poor.
“I thought if the Iranians could do it with a fraction of resources we have, then why shouldn’t we?” said Shirley.
An Iranian doctor helped them make contact with Shiraz University, which manages more than 1,000 health houses and trains healthcare workers.
Shirley and Miller visited Iran in May and were astonished to be welcomed with open arms. When they went to remote villages to see the health houses, the Iranians were equally amazed.
“They told us this is a miracle,” said Miller. “Not only were Americans coming here, but also they were learning from us rather than telling us what to do.”One villager exclaimed: “We always knew rain fell down but never knew it could fall up.”
They signed an agreement with Shiraz University to form the Mississippi/Islamic Republic of Iran rural health project and applied to the US Treasury for a special licence for “Iranian transactions”.
Community leaders were shocked when he advised using Iran as a model. “To be honest, I wasn’t overwhelmed with the idea of copying Iran,” said Larry Griggs, the local fire chief.
The Iranian experts who came to Mississippi included two of the programme’s architects, Dr Hossein Malekafzali, a former minister who is professor of public health at Tehran University, and Dr Kamal Shadpour, the initiative’s co-ordinator in the health ministry.
The Greenwood community was convinced and leased a defunct car showroom for $1 a month for the first Mississippi health house, which is due to open next month. Fifteen Delta communities have expressed interest and Harvard’s School of Public Health will monitor the project.
The first candidates from the Mississippi Delta are expected to be trained as health assistants in Iran this spring. If it works, Shirley hopes to extend the programme to the rest of the US. “Just as Mississippi was ground zero in the civil rights movement, so it can be for health,” he said.
Nonetheless, the Iranian connection poses a problem. Knowing that many Americans might be outraged, they have not spoken about the project. Even the governor of Mississippi is unaware of it. “We’ve been deliberately working under the radar,” said Shirley.
3 days ago