01-01-2008 – American University of Armenia Leads Primary Health Care Training Program in Nagorno Karabagh

During March-May 2006, 265 nurses and 35 doctors throughout Nagorno Karabakh (NK) completed basic first aid and emergency skills training. The Armenian Red Cross Society, whose trainers have excelled at European regional competitions, conducted the first aid training course according to international standards. Graduates of the training program received a certificate, which is recognized throughout Europe. This 40+ hour first aid training course was the first of several training programs for doctors and nurses who provide outpatient primary care in NK organized by the Center for Health services Research and Development at the American University of Armenia (AUA/CHSR).

The project is part of the United States Agency of International Development (USAID) funded Humanitarian Assistance Program for Nagorno Karabakh (HAPNK) that is led implemented by the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR). These health-oriented training programs complement a larger set of multi-sector renovation and construction efforts being implemented by FAR within the USAID funded project. AUA/CHSR is responsible for the health sector activities including needs assessments and trainings and provides technical support to renovating health posts and providing needed medical equipment to effectively implement the medical training techniques taught in these courses.

The AUA/CHSR team is led by Drs. Alina Dorian and Michael Thompson. They are supported by experts such as Dr. Ara Tekian from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Dr. Sonia Arushanyan, Armenia’s IMCI expert, Dr. Aram Kaligian, a family physician from Boston, and a dedicated cadre of local trainers and professional staff.

The comprehensive health training program addressed the integrated management of childhood illnesses (IMCI); the management of adult diseases (ADM); and health promotion/patient counseling skills (PCS). The IMCI training addresses the most common conditions affecting children including respiratory infections, diarrhea, nutritional problems, anemia, prophylaxis of intestinal worms, burns and traumas, skin diseases, and ear and throat infections. ADM training, originally developed in NK by the International Committee of the Red Cross in the mid-1990s, addresses the diagnosis and treatment of the most common conditions affecting adults, including respiratory infections, cardiac diseases, urinary tract infections, skin diseases, burns and traumas, and gastro-intestinal diseases. The patient counseling skills training enables health professionals to effectively communicate with, educate, and motivate patients and community members in healthy habits and management of their illnesses.

By the end of January 2007, 86 nurses/feldshers and 10 doctors had completed the clinical IMCI training. From May-November 2007, AUA/CHSR team trained nearly 150 providers on ADM, and over 250 providers in effective patient counseling and health communication skills. One of the providers mentioned “I am very grateful to the organizers of this course. Consultations and advice provided within this course are necessary and important for me. It is preferable that these kinds of training courses are frequent and continuous.”

The last phase of these comprehensive training programs is now underway with the January 2008 launch of community-IMCI (c-IMCI). In 32 villages, nearly 600 villagers are being trained to promote healthy lifestyles and to encourage caregivers to seek appropriate medical care when necessary.

These training programs, designed to meet international standards and conform to local needs and resources, help ensure that the people of Nagorno Karabagh receive timely and effective primary care, emphasizing the most common conditions that threaten their well-being.

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