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Tatev Khachatryan

Etchmiadzin Hospital: Limping Along with 30 Year Old Medical Equipment

In October 2014, when Hetq last wrote about conditions at the Etchmiadzin City Hospital, director Vachagan Mkrtchyan reported that there was a plan to install central heating in the facility in collaboration with the Armavir Provincial Government.

Mkrtchyan also told Hetq that specialist from the Czech Republic would be arriving to conduct feasibility studies regarding the hospital’s renovation.

While there has been some progress on the first matter (the hospital will soon get central heating with assistance from the “EnergoKhnayoghagan Foundation”), the plan to renovate the facility from top to bottom is still in the study phase.

In the past few years the Armavir Provincial Government has not allocated any funds for health-related projects.

Such projects are funded by the “Health Project Implementation Unit” State Agency of the Ministry of Health. This body has also not included the Etchmiadzin Hospital in its list of medical centers to be renovated.

Davit Melik-Nubaryan, the Unit’s Hospital Optimization Component Coordinator, singled out the following criteria according to which it decides to include a hospital in any of its renovation projects.

“As a rule, we take into account whether the facility is located in a border region, the population it serves, its distance from Yerevan, and the existence of other renovated institutions in the same province.”

The Armavir Provincial Government told Hetq that the Etchmiadzin Hospital has been included in the 2015-2018 four year plan but that due to a scarcity of state resources no funds have been allocated.

Karineh Danielyan, head of the Armavir Provincial Government’s Department of Urban Development, told Hetq that the Etchmiadzin Hospital is included in every annual plan but that funds aren’t forthcoming.

“We know that the Vagharshapat Hospital is in poor condition and that it is in need of immediate repair. But due to a scarcity of state resources no funds have been allocated. This, the problem remains.”

According to Karineh Danielyan totally renovating the hospital will cost around US$2 million.

When we visited the hospital, patients lined up to tell us about the problems they face. Some complained that sewage water leaks from the floor above. Another patient said he had found a worm in the water. Another complained about plastering falling off the damp and musty wall.

A week ago, Armenia’s Minister of Health Armen Muradyan visited the hospital along with Armavir Provincial Governor Ashot Ghahramanyan.

Muradyan instructed the hospital’s administration to ‘create attractive working conditions for provincial specialists’. Clearly, top specialists would find it difficult to work normally in the conditions that currently exist and with thirty year old medical equipment.

The hospital’s x-ray machine, manufactured in 1985, is decades behind the times in terms of technical ability. The rest of the equipment used at the hospital was manufactured between 1993 and 1994.

Armineh Karapetyan, who runs the hospital’s diagnostics unit, affirms that the equipment is outdated.

“Whatever we have is quite old. We examine colonoscopy patients with it. It would be great to have up to date equipment.”

Photos: Narek Aleksanyan


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