Through the UMCOR-supported DOS Medical Commodities Distribution Program in Armenia, quality healthcare is accessible to mothers, children and entire communities.
By Narine Harutyunyan*
April 3, 2014—Varditer Iskandaryan is a family doctor who works in a rural ambulatory clinic in the village of Gandzakar, Tavush marz, Armenia. She spares no effort in helping her patients to receive appropriate and quality medical assistance. In her work as a healthcare provider over the course of 17 years, she has gained the trust and respect of the villagers she serves.
“My mission is much broader than simply treating disease,” says Iskandaryan. “My desire is to help the community become and stay healthy. If we are to be a healthy nation in the future, we must pay special attention to maternal and child healthcare now. We have to ensure safe motherhood for our women and healthy childhood for our new generations. This important mission includes a long list of intense professional activities every rural family doctor must implement,” she says.
Iskandaryan is highly effective at persuading pregnant women in the community to come for timely and regular check-ups. “The DOS Medical Commodities Distribution Program implemented by UMCOR (the United Methodist Committee on Relief) plays a very important part,” says the doctor. “Thanks to the program, the ambulatory clinic receives medicines, medical supplies, and non-medical supplies. The women are drawn by UMCOR’s layette kits and don’t put off that first visit to register their pregnancies,” she smiles.
Timely visits facilitate prevention or early discovery of possible complications in pregnancy. “The most common complications I’ve observed during my years of work are gestational hypertension and pregnancy-related anemia,” Iskandaryan indicates. “I successfully treat these conditions with the help of UMCOR-provided anti-hypertension medicines and iron and folic acid supplements, respectively.”
Alina Hovhannisyan is one of Iskandaryan’s patients. When she became pregnant with her first child, she felt a huge responsibility and wanted to do everything right to have a healthy baby. Hovhannisyan went regularly to the clinic for check-ups. During one of these, she complained of feeling tired and weak, and Iskandaryan noticed that she looked unusually pale.
“I thought at once that the cause might be pregnancy-related anemia, and the blood test confirmed it,” says the doctor. “I prescribed Alina iron and folic acid supplements. She took a course of anti-anemia treatment, and she quickly felt much better. Her symptoms vanished, and her pregnancy went on without any new complications. Now Alina is the happy mother of a healthy baby son,” Iskandaryan says with satisfaction.
In order to ensure “children enjoy good health,” Iskandaryan teaches new mothers how to take proper care of their babies, practicing good hygiene and healthy nutrition. She explains how to successfully cope with different conditions that may occur during the first months of life and later.
“Thanks to the UMCOR program, many families with new babies get layette kits that contain baby shampoo, wash gel, diapers, and other articles free of charge. It is a great support for them,” says the doctor.
Iskandaryan underscores the high quality of UMCOR-provided medicines. “I have used a wide range of UMCOR medicines in my pediatric practice—from analgesics and anti-fever medicines to antibiotics. All the medicines have proven to be remarkably effective, without producing side effects,” she says.
Iskandaryan says that over the 15 years that UMCOR has implemented the DOS Medical Commodities Distribution Program in Armenia, the results have been impressive. “The program has been overwhelmingly positive for the village. It has made quality healthcare accessible to the whole community,” she says.
Your gift to UMCOR Sustainable Recovery and Development, Advance #3021951, supports UMCOR’s work in Armenia and other countries as they progress from disaster to development.
*Narine Harutyunyan is UMCOR Armenia program officer for health programs.