Health Hazards and Preventive Medicine
During the 1970s, apart from a high infant mortality rate, the
chief causes of death were gastrointestinal, respiratory, and
parasitic diseases. The incidence of cancer, diabetes, and heart
disease was increasing. Several contagious diseases, such as grippe
and influenza, conjunctivitis, scarlet fever, whooping cough,
pulmonary tuberculosis, and typhoid fever were common. There is
no evidence that the incidence of these diseases or the major
causes of mortality have declined during the 1980s.
Drug addiction was a serious problem before the Revolution and
reportedly has worsened since 1979. The Ministry of Health estimated
in 1986 that there may have been as many as 1 million addicts
in the country. Opium is the most commonly used drug. Since the
end of the nineteenth century, opium has been smoked as a recreational
drug at social gatherings. The Shia clergy have tried to discourage
this practice by declaring the use of opium religiously prohibited.
There is also some heroin use in the country.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the Ministry of Health carried out vaccination
campaigns in both urban and rural areas. Periodic campaigns have
included immunizations against measles, tuberculosis, diphtheria,
tetanus, whooping cough, and poliomyelitis for infants and children,
and general vaccinations against smallpox and cholera. These campaigns
have prevented the outbreak of major epidemics.
Data as of December 1987