The decree issued by the Ministry of Health sets that women, who are residents of regions, will have to pay for childbirth services if they prefer to give birth at hospitals in Yerevan, which means that only women registered in the capital will be able to get state-paid birthing services. Many women registered in the regions are discontent with the decree stating that regional hospitals lack optimal conditions for childbirth.
Gayane Avagyan, Head of Department of Maternal and Reproductive Health of the MOH does not doubt that safety of the pregnant women is ensured, as all the regions currently have necessary conditions for appropriate birthing services.
"30 percent of childbirths in Yerevan come from 4 bordering regions - Armavir, Ararat, Kotayq and Aragatsotn. In other regions women give birth at the regional hospitals. If a woman has a normal flow of pregnancy, she can give birth in the location she's registered in. We should make the regional hospitals competitive and able to struggle for competitiveness", Avagyan said.
United Nations Population Fund Assistant Representative Garik Hayrapetyan stressed the importance of restoring trust and confidence of the population, as well as professional, courteous and affable attitude of the medical personnel.
"The improvements at regional hospitals are not made by breaking a pregnant woman's wish to give birth wherever she wants, but by raising the quality of the birthing services in the regions. Why shouldn't a pregnant woman have freedom of choice?", Tevan Poghosyan, Deputy of the NA Heritage faction is convinced.
Representatives of Women Resource Center - lawyer Mariam Mkrtchyan and Reproductive and Sexual Health Programs Coordinator Anoush Poghosyan introduced the legal side of the issue, stressing that the decree may result in birth-rate reduction, increase the number of mother and child mortality cases and create corruption risks.
This Panel Discussion is part of IWPR’s Building Bridges/Building Capacity project, supported by the Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway.