By Sabina Idayatova
The increase in the budget funds allocated for healthcare in Azerbaijan in the last 10 years has paved the way for the establishment of new advanced modern medical services using high technology and modern medical equipment.
The implementation of 11 state programs in the priority areas of health has allowed increasing the level of medical services, facilitated the treatment of diseases and significant improvements in the provision of patients with medicine.
According to the Health Ministry, under these programs a large amount of the 140 million manats allocated for medicine in 2013 have been spent to provide patients with free medicine and medical equipment. As a result, the mortality rate has been reduced with regard to all diseases.
Medical glucometer devices and other items have been distributed free of charge to diabetes patients and their problems with medicine supply resolved. At present, nearly 180,000 diabetes patients benefit from free medicine.
Furthermore, the ongoing problem of antitumor drugs supply has been eliminated for cancer patients and the rate of mortality from cancer has been reduced. The number of purchased chemical therapy drugs has reached 50, which is significantly over the figure recorded in 2006-2008.
An improvement has been recorded in the provision of hemodialysis treatment for people suffering from chronic renal insufficiency. At present more than 2,000 patients are provided with treatment at 27 hemodialysis centers in the cities and regions of the country and they are also fully provided with the necessary free medicine.
With a view to preventing infectious diseases on average 500,000 children are vaccinated free of charge annually, which has helped to treat poliomielitis and diphtheria.
Stability has also been ensured regarding the epidemiology of tuberculosis, and mortality has been reduced 2.5-fold. Currently, all TB patients are provided with drugs by the government.
The mortality rate among thalassemia patents has decreased in the past 10 years due to the increased quality of treatment. Whereas earlier thalassemia patients lived for 10 to 12 years, now their life can be extended for up to 26 years. The successful implementation of the state program on inherited hemophilia and thalassemia promotes the improvement of the quality of life and the extension of the lives of the hereditary blood disease patients. Under the program, patients are provided with free medicine.
The health of children suffering from thalassemia has always been in the focus of attention of the President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva. In order to prevent the spread of this disease the foundation has launched the program "For the life without thalassemia". Moreover, Thalassemia Center in Baku has turned into a glimmer of hope for the children with hemophilia disease. For the first time in the region, an operating room has been created in the center for the transfer of bone marrow and extensive work was undertaken to carry out the process. Drastic treatment of the disease is planned in the near future at the Thalassemia Center, which is aimed at complete recovery of patients.
Furthermore, blood collected through voluntary donation activities conducted from time to time by the Health Ministry and other government agencies is donated for the treatment of patients suffering from hereditary blood disease. The issue of safe blood donations has been promptly solved in Azerbaijan. Blood supply has increased from 6.8 tons to 25.9 tons. The country has now made a transition from the paid to a voluntary donation system.
Considering the recommendations of the Azerbaijani President on the "Health Month" under the motto "For healthy life", held by the Health Ministry in December 2012, successful measures have been taken in disease prevention. More than 3 million medical examinations have been conducted during the large-scale campaign which involved teams of experts from scientific research institutes and leading medical centers. Such nationwide campaigns are scheduled to be held every year.
Important measures have been taken for the improvement of the quality of medical care provided to mothers and children. As a result, the infant mortality rate has decreased by 10.8 promile, compared to 16.7 promile in 2003. The maternal mortality rate decreased by 14.9 promile compared to 18.5 promile in 2003.
At present, more than 500 private medical institutions and medical cabinets as well as 2,000 pharmaceutical enterprises operate in the country.
According to the Azerbaijani Law on Education, specialization of doctors in the country is carried out in accordance with the residency approved in the education systems of the world's most developed countries. 451 physicians and medical workers attended 3-6 month courses on various fields of healthcare in the leading foreign clinics in 2009-2012.
Moreover, courses on the improvement of professional skills have been organized in Baku for the local doctors with the aid of leading foreign experts on various fields of study.
The encouragement of medical workers' labor is also in the focus of state care; their wages have been recently increased on a regular basis.
Significant work has been done in the filed of applying modern information technologies in healthcare. "Citizens' electronic health card" system has been launched in the framework of the "Electronic Azerbaijan" state program.
At present, more than 10 e-services are available in the "Electronic Services" section of the Health Ministry's website.
The image of Azerbaijani public healthcare has increased in the international arena. Currently, the ministry cooperates fruitfully on the basis of multi-level agreements and protocols with more than 40 countries.