Azerbaijan: A pilot project offers quality medical care and a model to follow

Disrupted power lines, broken water pipes and dilapidated homes, schools and public health centers have been repaired or renovated to help the community slowly return to normalcy. But people continue to have vivid memories of how their daily lives were disrupted and basic necessities became privileges.

Giving insight into the daily challenges of their community, Elsever, who has been in a wheelchair since an accident 13 years ago, and his elderly mother Mahbuba, who is diabetic, recount how they struggled to access essential healthcare in the village of Afatli, in the district of Agdam.

© Aida Aliyeva/ICRC

Mahbuba says she and her son often have to go to health centers for treatment.

“I have suffered from diabetes for 21 years and had to travel to other districts to get my medication as it was not available at our primary health center,” she says.

Mahbuba adds that it was also a big challenge to get medical care for her son. “He served in the army in the 1990s and we thank God he came back safe and sound from the front line. But he was seriously injured when a sycamore tree in our own yard fell on him. Since , he is in a wheelchair,” she added. said.

© Aida Aliyeva/ICRC

Elsever shares that he has to go to the primary health center regularly for consultations and to get intravenous fluids. “But I couldn’t get inside the facility because there was no ramp for the wheelchair. So I used to wait in the yard to get the drip. gout. It was especially difficult in the winter. The nurses would wrap me up and also wrap the serum with a towel to keep it from freezing due to the extreme cold,” he says.

© Aida Aliyeva/ICRC

Firuza, head of the Afatli Primary Health Center, confirms that they did not have the necessary facilities to provide quality medical care to the community. “The infrastructure and electricity supply system were very poor at the center. It was difficult for patients, especially children, to get proper medical services because we didn’t have a proper control room,” explains Firuza.

© Aida Aliyeva/ICRC

In response to the situation, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in collaboration with the Azerbaijani health authorities, planned a primary health care pilot project lasting one to two years to support three establishments health in Agdam and Tartar districts. The project aims to build the capacity of primary health care facilities and demonstrate a model of primary health care tailored to the region, which can then be scaled up for implementation across the country.

© Aida Aliyeva/ICRC

As part of the project, in 2022 the ICRC helped renovate the Afatli public health center and improve infrastructure, including electricity, heating and water supply systems, outdoor toilets and laundry, septic tank, incinerator, etc. A ramp was also built at the facility to make it accessible to people with disabilities. Elsever can now visit the center without hesitation.

The ICRC is an impartial, neutral and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of people affected by armed conflict and other violence.