by Nane Vardanyan
Have you ever wondered what health care looks like in Armenia’s rural regions? Here’s a little glimpse:
Village residents usually have access to one medical post, where they can only receive essential treatment. Should they require other medical services, they have to travel to an urban community nearby. With no reliable transportation system and road infrastructure, those visits can turn into a genuine challenge for rural folks. Add to this a general lack of quality medical services, and you’ll get a good picture of why village people are known for “not looking after their health.”
COAF is taking several steps to fight this grim reality and encourage rural residents to rethink their attitudes. But none of them are quite as revolutionary as this latest initiative:
COAF has partnered with the Ministry of Health in Armenia to open a new health center in Lori’s Dsegh village. Leaving aside the infrastructural aspect of this initiative, the new Center will offer high-quality medical services to the residents of 15 villages, thereby inevitably impacting the lives of thousands of beneficiaries.
COAF Health Services
Health is one of COAF’s four critical areas for rural development (along with Education, Child and Family Services, and Economic Development). What does that include, you ask? Many things:
1. Medical Services
For starters, it means that our health experts, both of whom are named Lusine, spend 4 out of 5 workdays in villages across our five beneficiary regions, Armavir, Aragatsotn, Shirak, Lori, and Tavush. They go from house to house to carry out disease prevention services, covering breast, thyroid, and prostate cancer screenings.
2. Dental Services
Dental care is an integral part of health care, yet often neglected. In rural regions, this lack of attention to oral hygiene arises from a lack of education and limited access to water. COAF tackles this issue from an early age by ensuring that school cafeterias offer healthy food and are equipped with so-called Brushodromes, i.e., dedicated areas where children can brush their teeth in the mornings and after meals. On top of that, COAF offers free dental services to students until the age of 18.
3. Training of Local Health Provider
At the same time, our two health experts, both of whom are called Lusine, conduct on-the-job training for local nurses and doctors to help improve their expertise, management skills, as well as their internal and external communication.
In the Grand Scheme of Things
Word on the street is that Debet village, and the entire Lori region for that matter, is in the midst of a full-scale transformation. With a groundbreaking education hub (COAF SMART Center), a blooming social enterprise (Concept Hotel), and many other infrastructure projects taking place at once, our health workers won’t rest until every resident in the village looks after their health.
Therefore, our specialists visit Debet twice a week to carry out early detection screenings and ensure the correct use of disease management strategies. Since Debet has no doctor, our team trains the nurse to take full responsibility for providing proper primary care. The ultimate goal is to screen 100% of the village residents.
Building on these efforts and expanding them across the entire Lori region, COAF will soon build a 4,843 sq. ft health center in Dsegh, a neighboring village of Debet. The new health facility will provide medical services for 15 villages in Lori, Debet included.
The medical staff will consist of four doctors, two dentists, 23 nurses, and one lab technician, all of whom will ensure the seamless provision of early detection and dental services. Additionally, COAF will organize regular visits by specialists (cardiologists, endocrinologists, etc.) from neighboring cities to be able to go beyond essential care and treat a broad range of medical conditions.
Considering that the introduction of the new Health Center is carried out in cooperation with the Armenian government, COAF is actively helping expand the coverage of Armenia’s public health care system.
Construction is set to start in November, allowing the Center to be ready by the end of 2022.