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Humanitarians are addressing the increasing healthcare needs in Karabakh.
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Humanitarians are addressing the increasing healthcare needs in Karabakh.

There are still worries for individuals who are unable to depart from the town of Khankendi in the Karabakh Region, also referred to as Stepanakert by Armenians. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has reported that the town is nearly deserted.

The primary focus continues to be on identifying and aiding those who are unable to help themselves.

Deserted city

Marco Succi, Head of Rapid Deployment for the ICRC, stated that the city is now completely abandoned and the hospitals, which number more than one, are not operational.

“The healthcare workers have departed. The water management officials have also left. Even the morgue’s director and our previous collaborators have left. This situation feels incredibly unreal.”

Mr. Succi stated that the city still had access to electricity and water, and that the main focus was on locating individuals who were at high risk such as the elderly, mentally disabled, and those without any support.

Helpless and alone

An elderly cancer patient named Susanna was discovered in the past few days, residing in a fourth-floor apartment building. She was alone and unable to leave her bed.

The neighbors had provided her with food and water a few days earlier, but their resources were dwindling. As she waited for assistance, she began to lose faith. Once her condition was deemed stable, she was transported by ambulance to Armenia.

The ICRC representative stated that approximately 300 food packages would be delivered to the city on Tuesday from Goris, an important entry point from the Karabakh Region. These packages will contain essential goods for those who were not able to evacuate.

Mr. Succi shared that several individuals left their homes and stores unlocked in case anyone needed assistance. He also mentioned an elderly woman who had opened her fridge and aired out her house, stating, “You never know when someone new may come in.”

Massive influx

Dr. Marthe Everard, Special Representative of the WHO Regional Director to Armenia, emphasized the seriousness of the situation in nearby Armenia and stressed the importance of strengthening the country’s health system to handle the significant number of refugees.

Dr. Everard addressed the media in Geneva through Zoom upon his return from Goris. He emphasized the importance of monitoring and treating infectious diseases, as well as addressing gaps in measles vaccinations.

She emphasized the importance of mental health and psychosocial support, stating that it was a crucial aspect.

The WHO representative stated that aside from shelter, the new arrivals have urgent needs for treatment of chronic illnesses like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. The organization is dedicated to aiding the Armenian Government’s extensive efforts.

Integrating health workers

Dr Everard stated that they are aiding in the incorporation of over 2,000 nurses and 2,200 doctors into the healthcare system in Armenia.

The WHO representative mentioned that the United Nations’ organization has increased their assistance to Armenia in response to the fuel depot explosion in Karabakh. They have supplied materials to aid in the treatment of over 200 individuals, including adults and children, who suffered severe burns. Tragically, the incident resulted in 170 fatalities.

A specialist burns team had also been deployed as part of WHO Emergency Medical Teams Initiative and arrived in Yerevan over the weekend, Dr. Erevard said. “We have issued a wider call for further specialist teams to complement this workforce and to support moving some of these most critical patients to specialized centres abroad.”

“Nearly 700 infants near their due date”

The United Nations’ agency for sexual and reproductive health, UNFPA, is working to provide health and protection services to the large number of women and girls who have escaped from Karabakh.

There are approximately 2,070 pregnant women among the refugees, and it is anticipated that around 700 of them will deliver babies within the next three months.

UNFPA announced that, in partnership with the health ministry of Armenia, they will provide 20 reproductive health kits to support a population of approximately 150,000 people. These kits include necessary equipment and supplies to assist in safe deliveries and handle obstetric emergencies.

The organization has provided 13,000 dignity kits, containing items such as sanitary pads, soap, and shampoo.