Iran Focus: Tehran, Jan. 23 – The 120,000 residents of the town of Aq-Qala in Golestan province (northern Iran) only have a single children's doctor, and are forced to travel to neighbouring cities to have their children seen to. "Patients who are not able to get treatment in this town must travel to neighbouring cities", an Aq-Qala resident said, in an interview with the state-run news agency. Iran Focus

Tehran, Jan. 23 – The 120,000 residents of the town of Aq-Qala in Golestan province (northern Iran) only have a single children's doctor, and are forced to travel to neighbouring cities to have their children seen to.

"Patients who are not able to get treatment in this town must travel to neighbouring cities", an Aq-Qala resident said, in an interview with the state-run news agency.

Residents reportedly complained of a lack of government aid to help doctors in this town develop professional practices.

"Many residents avoid treatment because of the costs and hazardous travel involved", according to a second resident.

Another resident by the name of Beiram Mohammadkar said, "Many ill people do not see specialised doctors. The lack of expert doctors has led to those in need of such doctors being forced to travel to Gorgan (northern Iran). It is difficult and tiring to constantly travel to other cities and it involves large costs and dangerous roads."

"Residents of Aq-Qala struggle to provide basic necessities to be able to live, and on top of this, each month they are forced to pay a large amount of money for treatment and its travel costs, he added.

Other residents complained that every year many sick people in Aq-Qala with curable diseases die because they were not able to visit a doctor.

Many believe that the government's unwillingness to support aspiring doctors is a fundamental reason for the current medical crisis.

This week the head of Iran's General Practitioners Association said that Iran has nearly 16,000 unemployed doctors and general practitioners.

"Nearly 16,000 graduated general practitioners are either unemployed or working in other professions throughout the country", Hossein Hoveida said, adding that the government should take responsibility for the "existing social crisis" and help such doctors and GPs since they were responsible for the health of the nation.

He said that government loans given to a small percentage of such GPs only cover a seventh of the amount needed to support them in developing their own practices.