Pharmaceutical Distribution Project (2012)

UMCOR health activities

Pharmaceutical Distribution Program
The distribution of pharmaceuticals is UMCOR's longest-running project in Armenia. Since 1994, UMCOR has provided hundreds of clinics throughout the country with essential medicines and medical supplies. These clinics prescribe UMCOR medicines free-of-charge to vulnerable populations. UMCOR is renowned for this type of intervention. Annually, over 115 health posts, clinics, orphanages and schools receive medicines and medical supplies.

The project is supported by the U.S. Department of State and closely coordinated with policy makers and regulators at Armenia's Ministry of Health. The medicines and supplies are received as donations from private institutions such as Interchurch Medical Assistance, Project Hope, Heart To Heart International, and AmeriCares.

Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS, STIs and TB
Since 2003, with the financial support of the Norwegian Church Aid, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as United Methodist Church Global AIDS Fund, UMCOR has been implementing the “Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS, STIs, and TB” project. The goal of the project is to reduce the risk of HIV/AIDS, STIs, and TB in rural communities by increasing access to health information and services.

In the framework of the project, the following activities are implemented:

  1. Trainings of local primary health care (PHC) providers on Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) for HIV, STI management, TB case detection and follow-up of TB patients' treatment;
  2. Free-of-charge services (VCT, STI and TB management) provided in target rural communities by the Mobile Medical Team (comprised of three doctors: STI, TB and laboratory specialists);
  3. Public health education activities including peer education of Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) on HIV/AIDS, STIs and TB prevention, as well as development and distribution of informational materials;
  4. Distribution of condoms to persons at risk.

Over 2,000 Community Health Volunteers have been trained in to provide peer education on HIV/AIDS, STIs and TB prevention.

UMCOR works collaboratively with the Armenian Ministry of Health, the National Center for AIDS Prevention, the National Tuberculosis Program, local government officials, community-based healthcare providers, and other NGOs to implement the Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS, STIs and TB program.

In addition, UMCOR Armenia actively participates in HIV/TB advocacy activities by organizing events for the AIDS Candlelight Day (May 2Ist), World AIDS Day (December 1), World TB Day (March 24th), and the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

Global Fund and UNAIDS
In April 2005, UMCOR became a member of the Country Coordinating Mechanism of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, as well as the UNAIDS Technical Working Group. These memberships allow UMCOR to be at the forefront of coordination on HIV/AIDS and TB related activities in Armenia. In collaboration with the Armenian National Center for AIDS Prevention (NCAP) and other partners, UMCOR participated in the implementation of "The Second Generation HIV Surveillance in the Republic of Armenia, 2005."

Strengthening Public Health in Armenia
In August 2003, UMCOR signed an agreement with the U.S Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for the project, “Strengthening Public Health in Armenia.” UMCOR trained Armenian leaders and public health professionals in practical approaches to public health education. Eight individuals, including two UMCOR employees, received training in the U.S. In the framework of the project, UMCOR developed educational brochures and flyers containing public health related information. Among the issues addressed were TB and HIV/AIDS.

Social Transition Program
UMCOR provided health services through its Mobile Medical Teams as part of the USAID-funded Social Transition Program (STP). The first MMT began operating in Gegharkunik Marz in March of 2001. The team consisted of four doctors: a therapist, a pediatrician, a gynecologist and a laboratory specialist. The MMT provided health services to eleven communities in Gegharkunik Marz. The range of health services included medical consultations/counseling, provision of prescribed pharmaceuticals, and laboratory analysis. A second MMT started similar operations in thirteen communities of Lori Marz in January 2003. Within the framework of the STP, UMCOR also implemented a Community Health Care Workers (CHCW) Training Project. In total, 96 CHCWs in eight communities received training on various health topics including topics related to HIV/AIDS and the prevention of STIs and TB.

In 2012, Kotayk Primary Health Care Center, an outpatient clinic in Kotayk marz, joined the group of health facilities receiving essential pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and in-kind goods in the framework of the Department of State’s Medical Commodity Distribution Program. 
The medical personnel of the clinic include two family doctors, two nurses, and one obstetrician. Previously, UMCOR had an experience of collaboration with the center’s personnel who were trained in the framework of the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness Project (2005), as well as in the Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS, STIs, and TB Project (2008). Later, in 2011, with funding from DOS and with contributions from the community, the center was renovated (SRP-2011). Improved conditions of the health facility guaranteed safety and appropriate environment for keeping UMCOR medicines, medical and non-medical supplies.
Larisa Artashesyan, the nurse responsible for UMCOR medicines distribution, remarked: “With an assistance of a Medical Commodity Distribution Program, the Center performs its mission significantly better. Availability of free of charge medicines helps the most vulnerable patients of the communities.”
Siranuysh Markosyan is a frequent visitor at the clinic. Chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension made her qualify for benefiting from the UMCOR program. “Of course, I would rather prefer to be healthy and avoid the necessity of taking certain medicines,” she smiled. “But it’s only fair to say that the program substantially reduces my drug bills. My retirement income is ridiculously low and barely enough to cover utility bills and foodstuff expenses. So, I can say for sure that receiving antihypertensive and antidiabetic drugs free of charge is of a great help to my family budget since eases my monthly expenses considerably,” she added gratefully.
“Since the beginning of our relationship with UMCOR, the medical staff of the center, as well as Kotayk and Nor Gyugh communities served by our clinic, have shown a keen interest in all of the UMCOR’s projects and taken an active part in them,” said Dr. Ruzanna Mikayelyan, the head of the Kotayk PHCC. “We highly appreciate and welcome any new project and activities DoS and UMCOR can offer us. For country people, each of them is like a breath of fresh air in a dull routine of rural life, like a wind of changes that brings hope and belief for better future,” concluded the doctor.