RMF’s new project initiative in Armenia

May 31, 2008

Nairy Ghazourian

Armenia is one of the world’s oldest civilizations located in the southern Caucasus and is the smallest of the former Soviet republics. It lies in the highlands surrounding the Biblical mountains of Ararat, upon which, as Judeo-Christian theology states, Noah’s Ark came to rest after the flood (Gen 8:4). Armenia was the first country in the world to officially embrace Christianity as its religion in 300 A.D. Upon the collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenia declared its independence on September 23, 1991 as a free democratic country.

Armenia has an estimated population of 3,000,000 people of which 70.3% are between 15-64 years. The life expectancy at birth is 72.4 years. The conditions that account for the biggest burden of disease are cardiovascular disease and neuropsychiatric illness. Tobacco and high cholesterol level are the dominant risk factors for men, while the main risk factors for women are excess weight and high blood pressure (WHO).

The quality and accessibility of health services for children and mothers in Armenia, particularly in rural areas remain poor. Immunization Coverage Survey conducted in 2006 jointly by UNICEF and Ministry of Health indicated that the rate of fully immunized children has dropped to 42%.

It is estimated that 42.9% of the country live below the poverty line. Like other New Independent States of the former Soviet Union, Armenia's economy still suffers from the legacy of a centrally planned economy and the breakdown of former Soviet trading networks. In addition, the effects of the 1988 earthquake, which killed more than 25,000 people and made 500,000 homeless, are still being felt, though international donors and diaspora Armenian groups continue to fund reconstruction efforts in the earthquake zone.
Real Medicine Foundation is currently working toward its goal to establish a primary care clinic in Armenia which will provide free medical, preventative and public health services to the population in need. At this time we are working to identify the area with the greatest number of people living in poverty that have no or very limited access to health and medical care.

Country Page: Armenia Initiative Page: Healthcare Project, Shinuhayr