Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Marzieh Dastjerdi

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has removed his minister of health, Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi, after the minister criticized the government’s failure to provide adequate funding for the provision of medical drugs.

On Thursday, Iranian media reported that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has issued an order appointing Mohammad Hossein Tarighat Monfared to take the helm of the Health Ministry while removing Mazieh Dastjerdi. The order does not mention the name of the outgoing minister.

Dastjierdi’s removal comes after vice president Mohammadreza Rahimi said last week that rumours of Dastjerdi’s dismissal were unfounded, saying: “Until Mr. Ahmadinejad is there, I will be there, and until Ahmadinejad is there, Ms. Dastjerdi will be there.”

Last week, an Oroumiyeh representative in Parliament, Nader Ghazipour, was quoted as saying: “We have heard that they are going to remove Ms. Dastjerdi because she has said that foreign currency incomes are being used for the import of cosmetics.”

Dastjerdi, the only female minister in the Ahmadinejad cabinet, has been critical in recent months about the government’s allocation of foreign currency in view of the decline in Iran’s oil revenues.

On December 14 she said: “From our point of view, medical needs should be the second or third priority but currently they are put at 7th and 8th, and unfortunately goods such as horse saddles have a higher priority somewhere at 4th or 5th.”

She also called on Central Bank officials to explain how foreign currencies given out for medical drugs are being “used for cosmetics imports.”

In the past few months, several health officials in Iran have sounded the alarm over the shortage of medical drugs while the intensification of international sanctions and the mismanagement of the Ahmadinejad government have been cited as the causes of the crisis.