OPINION: Alec Minassian – June 16, 2020
In an era of unparalleled inconsistency and an exponentially more severe threat to public health, the prospects of a productive, efficient, and broadband system of healthcare on the national level has proven the worth of its investment. In countries like South Korea, an immediate and prompt response to a potential outbreak brought about the entirely necessitated public health strategies of social distancing, broadband testing, affordable hospital bills, and a significant emphasis on the well-being of the elderly and at-risk populations of the country, reducing their coronavirus death toll to below 300 deaths as of June 16th.
In Armenia, an effective governmental response, albeit lacking in the earlier months of February and March, allowed for the lockdown of travel, trade, and transportation across international borders, and an emphasis on businesses and schools allowed for an immediately advantageous protective barrier against the onset of viral infections. However, the healthcare system of the country has brought on serious concern, especially from inhabitants of small villages, towns, and rural regions incapable of affording or accessing the more productive medicinal innovations of urban Armenia. Prior to the independence of 1991, Armenia enjoyed a comprehensive and efficient system of healthcare under the occupation of the Soviet Union, and as a product of ant-socialist and pro-free market economic policies, the private industries of the nation became almost entirely incapable of filling the gaps left vacant by the abrupt transfer of power. As such, the WHO has shed light on this profound political and medical misstep on behalf of the country’s private enterprises, noting, “Private financing constitutes about half of total health expenditures in Armenia and most of that comes directly out of the consumer’s pocket. In the current economic downturn, fewer and fewer people can afford it.”, sentiments that have become increasingly more apparent with the steep decline in GDP, and the sharp uptick of unemployment shared not only by the varying regions of the country, but by the entire world at large (WHO). The WHO reports, “the system has fragmented along partially free-market lines and is today failing the majority of the people it is supposed to serve. Skewed towards expensive hospital interventions that swallow up more than 50% of the national health budget, the Armenian health system falters at the local community level and is often totally absent from rural areas.”(WHO). Such downturn and malpractice on behalf of the political, economic, and medical communities of Armenia have prompted the consistently declining status and availability of the country’s healthcare system, a verifiable statistic proven by the progression of Covid-19 in the country.
As of June 16, 2020, Armenia has endured 293 coronavirus deaths, but has seen an influx of confirmed cases up to 17, 489. Government officials have already gone on record to confirm the dangers associated with exponential increase of cases, which would bring about overwhelmed hospitals, faulty protection of the at-risk population, and a decline in the economic, political, and educational opportunities once promised by the country, a testament to the incapacity of the healthcare system to respond heavily enough to the coming detriment. As such, an eager demand for enhanced legislative and political leadership has overtaken the country, and has prompted an advocacy of more strict, consequential public health guidelines.
Healthcare across the globe has been delegitimized and degraded, and even developed countries like the United States have suffered from unstable leadership and close-minded negligence of protocol, products of the political partisanship that has brought about the death of 119,000 American citizens. Ultimately, the unmatched uncertainty and indecision with which the nations and governments of the world must act are testaments to the dire circumstances faced on the global stage. But a priority in healthcare and the betterment of public health has showcased the entirety of its worth, and has proven its value in the maintenance and proper upkeep of the nation. As such, the future of the Armenian population, and in turn, the Armenian diaspora, lies not in militarism, political corruption, or international hostility, rather, in the infinite economic, social, and cultural opportunities promised by an undying commitment to improving the downfalls of our country’s healthcare system.