UNICEF mobile health clinics reach over 10,000 children displaced from Nagorno-Karabakh

10,000 children and 5000 pregnant women from Nagorno-Karabakh receive necessary medical check-ups for healthy growth and development

Lusin Mkrtchyan
Knara Mirzoyan and her three children fled the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to settle in Armenia.
UNICEF Armenia/2021/Galstyan
12 November 2021

Knara Mirzoyan fled her village in the early days of the military escalation in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, finding a new home in Tsakhkadzor, Armenia, with her daughter and two sons. In the months that followed, Knara struggled to make ends meet for her family. When the mobile health clinic, put together by UNICEF and partners with funding from the Government of Japan, reached Tsakhkadzor in September, it was the first time in over a year that her children were able to finally get a medical check-up from a pediatrician.

“Doctor Claudia examined Manana, 8, Serzh, 12, and Arsen, 15, for half an hour. It turned out that Manana will need to see an orthodontist. While I am relieved that my children don’t have a serious health issue to tend to, I still need to make sure that all three eat better and follow on their growth measurements. I also made sure to learn where the main medical centers are located and where to go when issues arise,”

said Knara.

From June to September 2021, UNICEF and partners reached thousands of parents, who had to leave their homes in Nagorno-Karabakh like Knara Mirzoyan, ensuring that children undergo medical check-ups to follow on their development and see who needs more targeted healthcare assistance. UNICEF mobile health clinics have already examined over 10,000 children and 5,000 pregnant women from Nagorno-Karabakh in Armenia’s five marzes – Ararat, Kotayk, Armavir, Vayots Dzor, and Syunik.

Liana Hovakimyan, Health Specialist at UNICEF Armenia
UNICEF Armenia/2021/Galstyan

“The Armenian healthcare services have been extremely overburdened for over a year now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this context, many children, especially those in refugee-like situation, may fall off the radar. In addition, children from Nagorno-Karabakh do not have medical cards and medical history documents; many of them are not yet registered at any healthcare institution in the country. Mobile clinic outreach helped to identify the health problems these children have, what medical examinations they need to undergo or what medical interventions they need. Through this programme, we have been able to prevent possible complications, as well as promote children’s healthy growth and development during the pandemic,”

noted Liana Hovakimyan, UNICEF Armenia Health Specialist.
Doctor Claudia Foljyan
UNICEF Armenia/2021/Galstyan

“During the check-ups, we most often encounter spinal and posture problems among children, followed by vision-related issues or metabolic complications. This has been an excellent opportunity to reach those children who would not otherwise come to the regional polyclinic. We also try to talk to caregivers about healthy nutrition and age-specific requirements as one of the prerequisites to healthy growth, at the same time understanding that there isn’t a lot that struggling parents can do with no steady income and having left everything behind,” shared Dr. Claudia Foljyan, Hrazdan Medical Center.

Marina Khachatryan with her two daughters at the medical check-up
UNICEF Armenia/2021/Galstyan

“The mobile medical examination was of real help to me. It has been personally very difficult for me to ensure that my daughters regularly see a doctor and I have been unable to do so. I would have waited for a health issue to occur before trying to find where the nearest doctor is here, and now I feel so relieved that my children were seen by a pediatrician and that there are health issues that I can work to prevent before our next visit,

said Marina Khachatryan who has also fled to Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh with her three daughters.
Doctor Marine Babayan
UNICEF Armenia/2021/Galstyan

“The standard check-up usually includes a somatic assessment to understand how the liver, heart, lungs, and the spleen function, also checking the state of the spine. For children under 1 year of age, we measure the head circumference as well. Then we go for a vision and hearing test,” explains Dr Marine Babayan, Abovyan Medical Center. “During these visits we engage the local community pediatricians in our mobile teams, exchanging with each other our experience and knowledge of age-appropriate examinations of children, growth monitoring, proper care and healthy nutrition. We also give special attention to psychosocial wellbeing and take required actions.”

With the funding of the Government of Japan, UNICEF will continue to strengthen the capacity of the regional healthcare providers to provide displaced families and host communities with quality lifesaving health services. In the next months, UNICEF will deliver essential medical equipment and supplies, such as pediatric resuscitation and oxygen therapy equipment, scales, height meters, and other supplies to 17 regional health facilities in the borderline regions of Armenia affected by the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.