3. Providing health services effectively
The section on PROVIDING HEALTH SERVICES EFFECTIVELY describes approaches for service delivery planning and patient pathways for suspected COVID-19 cases. It also considers efforts by countries to maintain other essential services during periods of excessive demand for health services.
3.1 Planning services
There are currently 9 designated health facilities to treat COVID-19 patients (see Section 2.1). Primary care is responsible for detecting suspected cases and referral for testing (see Section 1.5). There has been an increase in the availability and use of telephone consultations.
On 10 July the Government approved the proposed amendments to the Law on the Legal Regime of the State of Emergency, which allows the centralized management of the healthcare system once a State of Emergency has been declared. The amendments authorise the government to transfer the management of all medical facilities in Armenia to the Ministry of Health, regardless of their affiliation and ownership.
On 17 August, the MoH announced that the first morgue in Armenia designated for autopsies of cases of highly dangerous infections in accordance with international standards has been fully renovated and put into operation. The Ministry’s “Scientific-practical center of forensic medicine” branch operating in Kotayk region is now equipped with modern equipment and has two autopsy rooms, one of which is designated for autopsies of cases of highly dangerous infections, including COVID-19.
On 20 January 2021, the Ministry of Health published the priorities for COVID-19 vaccine risk groups. The priorities were agreed at a regular sitting of the Republican Advisory Committee on Immunization and the possibilities of obtaining COVID-19 vaccines during the second window of COVAX were also discussed. The Committee has proposed that vaccinations against COVID-19 should be carried out in stages, setting the following priorities for at-risk groups:
- In the first stage, the residents in elderly care centres will be vaccinated, as well as the employees and medical workers in care centre, people aged 65+, and people aged 16-64 years who have chronic conditions.
- Taking into account the epidemiological situation and vaccine availability, lecturers, teachers, employees of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, servicemen, justice workers, public transport workers, civil servants will be vaccinated at the second stage.
Armenia plans to purchase 10,000 doses of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, depending on its availability, and the country has made advance payments to COVAX to procure vaccines for 300,000 people (about 10 percent of the population) (https://eurasianet.org/caucasus-vaccine-effort-infected-with-geopolitics). If it becomes available in March 2021, the possibility of buying enough of the AstraZenica vaccine to cover 3% of the population has also been discussed. The Ministry of Health is trying to cover the remaining gap through bilateral requests.