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MSF in Armenia, 2004
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MSF has expanded its activities among people with mental health problems in eastern Armenia's Gegharkunik region. The priority is to improve the way mentally ill outpatients are cared for, reduce their hospitalization rate and minimize their social isolation. The project involves psychologists, nurses, social workers and community educators. In northern Armenia, on the border with Georgia, MSF runs a project which treats patients with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV, and aims to reduce their prevalence among high-risk groups including commercial sex workers, truck drivers and migrant workers. Each month, approximately 300 people receive services which include treatment of STIs at the MSF clinic, condom distribution and education.
In June 2004, after seven years, MSF's work with the children in a "special education center" in Vardashen ended. The project demonstrated that there was an effective, humane alternative to the violent methods through which such institutions have traditionally controlled their inhabitants. MSF used an educational approach based on respect for the child as an individual. MSF staff also showed that by providing help to the children's families, children could remain at home for longer periods of time and would not have to resort to begging on the streets. MSF has been sharing its conclusions with Armenian authorities in an ongoing attempt to press the government to reform the ways in which these atrisk young people are treated.
In mid-2004, MSF started providing health care for civilians living in the regions of Vardenis and Tshambarak. Many residents in this area are refugees from neighboring Azerbaijan who fled the country after the 1991-4 war, and unemployment is high. MSF is offering basic medical care as well as treatment for women and children in six health centers, two clinics and two hospitals. The team will also train and supervise local ministry of health staff. In addition, MSF will provide medicines and needed materials and help rehabilitate the facilities. The organization plans to undertake advocacy action to make national authorities and donor agencies more aware of the needs of this regional group.
MSF has worked in Armenia since 1988.