Healthcare is the least discussed subject in the party platforms of the political forces running in the May 5 municipal election in Yerevan, when experts and the same politicians believe it is one sphere where shortcomings are plentiful.
Low salaries for physicians, low-quality medical assistance, lack of doctors’ safety measures, disproportionate provision of insurance mechanisms, aggravation of healthcare triggered by environmental challenges – these were the issues discussed today by party representatives and experts.
“At the polyclinics operating under the municipality, the average salary is 40,000 drams ($100), which is, naturally, not enough. Under the circumstances, even a doctor with 200,000 drams' (around $500) salary cannot be asked for heroic acts,” said Medical Free-Independent Trade Union member Gevorg Tamamyan.
Barev Yerevan alliance representative Hayk Martirosyan added that if things continued the same way Armenia would be left with no qualified professionals within 3-4 years' time.
Professionals have to be appreciated and not allowed to lose their lives just because of lack of money, says Mission party representative Manuk Sukiasyan.
“If we divide the money annually allotted from the state budget by the number of people, it makes less than 10,000 drams ($25) per person. The state, under the excuse of populism, says it is providing free medical assistance, when in fact it creates a doctor-patient conflict,” he said.
That is also among the main reasons why doctors are subjected to violence, and are sometimes even killed, like in case with Ashot Grigoryan. As ARF's Yenok Abrahamyan pointed out, doctors are not protected in Armenia either physically or legally.
“They talk about medical insurance, but the biggest absurdity of it is that all public servants have medical insurance, while doctors don't,” added Tamamyan.
The party representatives reflected on the shortcomings with concrete examples.
Manuk Sukiasyan believes that a city in as terrible environmental condition as Yerevan cannot have a “healthy healthcare” system. Leader of Armavir Development Center Naira Arakelyan pointed out that the city hall currently does not possess sufficient means to carry out tangible healthcare reforms. She believes healthcare is in poor condition throughout the entire country.
“Healthcare makes 1.5 percent of our GDP. In the world only Turkmenia has such an index, which means that our healthcare funding is lagging far behind,” she said.
The party representatives summed up the discussion with a shared conclusion that the municipal authority in terms of healthcare should be increased.