WHO Azerbaijan organized the first PROACT-Care project coordination meeting with partners and stakeholders
- "Every crisis can create an opportunity for change. The ongoing pandemic helped us to see what the most acute shortcomings are in the health systems. We want to see the pandemic as an opportunity for transformation of the primary healthcare in Azerbaijan", Dr. Hande Harmanci, WHO Representative in Azerbaijan stated at the PROACT-Care coordination meeting where the longer-term vision for the primary health care model for the country was discussed.
WHO study shows that improved diagnosis, treatment, and control of hypertension in primary healthcare alone has the potential to save up to 24 000 lives and 600 million AZN per year in Azerbaijan. According to Dr. Harmanci, therefore, "development of primary healthcare can help to reduce mortality, lower health care costs, minimize economic losses and enhance labor productivity." During the meeting, the partners and stakeholders were also informed about THE progress in the PROACT-Care demonstration project, including results of the two needs assessment missions conducted last year. The PROACT-Care will be officially launched in the Shamakhi district next month.
Along with the project presentations by the PROACT-Care team, Dr. Ramin Bayramli, Head of TABIB, Dr. Teymur Musayev, Head of the Organization of Healthcare Department at the Ministry of Health, Mr. Soltan Mammadov, Member of the Health Committee at the Parliament of Azerbaijan, and Director of International Relations Department at the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, and Dr. Firangiz Aliyeva, Head of Medical Services Department at TABIB joined the event as keynote speakers to deliver their reflections on the project. The meeting was also attended by the representatives of USAID, UK Aid, and RoAID. Tahir Mammadov, the head of the Shamakhi District Executive Power, Edward Carwardine, UNICEF Representative in Azerbaijan, Farid Babayev, Head of the UNFPA Office in Azerbaijan, Ehtiram Rustamzada, Director of the Shamakhi District Central Hospital, representatives of the State Agency on Mandatory Health Insurance of Azerbaijan and other organizations participated in the meeting as partners and stakeholders of the project.
Dr. Ramin Bayramli noted in the meeting "launching such a project during major efforts to tackle the pandemic is important for us” and expressed hope that PROACT-Care will have a significant contribution to shaping the expected primary healthcare reforms in Azerbaijan. WHO expert Dr. Ibrahim Durak informed the meeting participants about the needs assessment missions conducted in Shamakhi district in August and December 2020 and noted that "only 1 in 9 persons (11%) with hypertension in Shamakhi district is diagnosed and only 1 in 11 persons (9%) treated for hypertension is well controlled." WHO expert Dr. Anne Johansen highlighted that 4% of the country's GDP is lost annually to non-communicable diseases. "An excellent primary healthcare can prevent 25% of the avoidable deaths in Azerbaijan" she noted. It was also mentioned that, as part of the project, over 100 healthcare workers will be trained on COVID-19 response, cardiometabolic risks, and mother and child health in the Shamakhi district in 8 February - 15 March 2021.
Delivering his reflections on the PRACT-Care project, Dr. Teymur Musayev pointed out that the PROACT-Care project can be very helpful to develop system and build human resources capacities to more efficiently use the existing healthcare resources in the Shamakhi district. Mr. Soltan Mammadov added that strengthening primary healthcare is among the key requirements of the introduction of mandatory health insurance in Azerbaijan and suggested to start similar needs assessment missions in the other regions of the country.
Other project stakeholders and partners also expressed their support to PROACT-Care and stressed the importance of the learnings of the project for developing a sustainable primary healthcare model in Azerbaijan.