Iran will buy Chinese medicinal herbs for millions more Iranians, officials said, as the country tries to ease a decades-long economic crisis.
President Hassan Rouhani has said that Iran’s pharmaceutical industry needs $400bn of funding to revive its industry, and last month, he pledged $30bn in public investment to help bolster its efforts.
His cabinet has also pledged $1bn in funds for a new government health centre in Tehran.
Iranian authorities have also announced plans to buy a large quantity of Chinese medicinal plants from China.
A spokesman for Iran’s health ministry said that the country would buy about 40 million grams of the medicinal plants, which have a total value of about $1.5bn.
The announcement comes at a time when Iran is struggling to regain its reputation as an exporter of health care, which it lost to Saudi Arabia after the Islamic revolution.
More than a million people have died in the Iran-Iraq war, and the government has been criticised for failing to provide basic health services to the millions of Iranians living in the country.
Iran has long been known for its vast oil reserves and a number of large industrial parks are located in the Persian Gulf.
But since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran’s economy has been severely curtailed and its exports have dropped by more than half.