The care of newly born babies and children is a critical part of supporting the life-blood of a country, and modern facilities and equipment are essential to providing quality health care for all ages. Unfortunately due to a history of poor investment and then the onset of war, Stepanakert did not have good conditions for good health care in the early 1990’s and, sadly, this resulted in a high infant mortality rate.
In 1988, Karina Tarkhanyan, had just graduated from Medical University, and started work at the hospital in Stepanakert as a Doctor. After 2 years, the decision was taken to build a neo-natal unit and Karina was asked to be involved in the establishment of that facility. She was sent to Kiev to study, and specialise in neo-natal care. In the early days it was difficult, as there was very little equipment, to the extent that even premature babies had to be rested on hot bottles for warmth as there were no incubation units. During the war the building was used to treat Azerbaijani Prisoners of War and progress was curtailed for a few years as it performed this alternative humanitarian role..
In 1991 Karina had her third baby but was able to continue with her work. Conditions did not improve during that period and the effects of war strained the services that they could provide and inevitably the range of ailments experienced were more extreme which made the task more difficult. After 1994, and as confidence grew in Karina and the rest of the people running the hospital, more equipment was donated by a variety of NGO and charitable organisations and it now has the full range of equipment and infrastructure necessary for the population size. Any unusual cases, or requirements for specialised services, are referred to Yerevan.
The initial investment by the original sponsors, and the on-going support from the state, and other NGO’s like Birthlink, has resulted in a modern, clean hospital supported by a highly trained medical team. It now supports people up to the age of 18, and the service provided is free. The good news is that the infant mortality rate has dropped over the last few years to levels which are consistent with a European norm which is a great testament to the hard work and dedication of people like Karina.
After 22 years of working with new born babies and, more importantly, anxious mothers, Karina provides something to health care which money cannot buy – experience and intuition. Her friendly smile and caring eyes, and a few choice words in the right place can create ease which no amount of drugs or equipment can deliver. Such people like her are important to supporting and enhancing the opportunities for babies and are a vital role in nurturing the country’s independent growth.
Categories: Life and People Artsakh