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Health Check - Drug shortages in Iran

Iran faces rising prices and shortages of medicines. How a Philippine university is bucking the trend of 'brain drain' and why morphine can make the pain worse for some people.

In Iran, thousands of people are having difficulty finding or paying for the drugs they need. Some attribute this to EU and US sanctions, which have resulted in serious economic problems and the undesired effect of making it difficult for suppliers to transfer money out of Iran, in order to import drugs. But other analysts say that the culprit the shortage of medicines is due to mismanagement by the Iranian government. Fariba Sahraei from BBC’s Persian service has been investigating the situation. Philippines brain drain The Philippines, like many countries, suffers from brain drain; the brightest and best leave to seek more lucrative jobs abroad. There are plenty of medical courses but despite this, there is a serious shortage of qualified doctors, especially in rural areas. But one Philippine university has adopted a novel approach. Its medical students are chosen and funded by their own communities, and all through the course, they keep going back there to try out their new skills. Most choose to stay in their community for the rest of their career. Kate McGeown reports from the University of the Philippines School of Health Sciences, on the remote island of Leyte. Morphine increasing pain The painkiller morphine has become a mainstay of medical care, often used after surgery as well for people with chronic pain and patients with cancer. For some types of pain it is the only drug that works. But for more than a hundred years doctors have noticed something strange; that in some patients morphine actually makes the pain worse rather than better. Dr Mike Salter, senior scientist at the hospital for sick children in Toronto, explains why it happens.

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