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The issue of closure of regional maternity hospitals has not been sufficiently discussed and analyzed…

On January 29th the Standing Committee on Health and Social Affairs of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia organized a working discussion on “Issues of Organizing Maternity Services in Armenia” with the participation of stakeholders.


The participants of the discussion touched upon the decision of the RA Ministry of Health to suspend state funding of maternity care services in a number of regions of Armenia, as a result of which some maternity hospitals will be closed. The ministry has introduced changes to the work of maternity hospitals and has decided to suspend state funding of maternity hospitals with less than 150 births per year.


RA Deputy Minister of Health Artyom Smbatyan presented the grounds for the decision. He noted that these centers do not have the necessary specialists, are not equipped with the necessary equipment to save the life of the mother and child when needed. According to a ministry spokesman, any childbirth, even uncomplicated, can have an unpredictable course and requires the immediate intervention of a qualified medical professional. It was also noted that the state does not make any financial savings on behalf of the Ministry of Health in case of such decisions, as any case of maternity care will continue to be compensated for all RA citizens.


The directors of the provincial medical facilities participating in the discussion complained against the ministry’s decision, stating that there had never been any deaths of newborns or babies. They expressed hope that instead of closing the maternity hospitals, the ministry would take steps to develop medical centers to engage in some of the young people’s specialties.


Referring to the question of the commission members that the employees of the medical institutions will become unemployed, Artyom Smbatyan said that some of them provide other services in combination with the same medical institutions. The ministry is ready to discuss the issue of job placement in other medical institutions.


Chairman of the Committee Narek Zeynalyan noted that the discussion revealed that the issue was not sufficiently discussed with the representatives of regional centers and medical institutions.


According to the committee chairman, before starting the process, the ministry should first analyze inter-community logistical and infrastructure issues such as providing ambulances to maternity hospitals, recruiting staff to medical centers, recruiting 2nd and 3d  graders. Based on that analysis, a decision was made to suspend the order. He also considered problematic the fact that the issue was not discussed during the budget discussions.


The Commission will summarize the results of the discussion in the near future, draw up a relevant conclusion and submit it to the Government.

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