United Methodist Committee on Relief


Filling a Critical Need in America

By Narine Harutyunyan*

April 4, 2013—In Armenia, ambulatory clinics are the main providers of essential health-care services in rural communities, but it’s an uphill battle. Insufficient funding; the lack of essential medicines, medical supplies, and diagnostic equipment; plus, in many cases, poor working conditions, present daily challenges to the doctors and nurses who staff these rural clinics to meet their patients’ needs.

Aknalitch Ambulatory Clinic is no exception. Located in Armavir marz, a mostly rural province in the western part of the country, it faces the same shortages and challenges as other rural clinics in Armenia. For that reason, the medicines, medical supplies, and non-medical goods it receives from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) are vital to the clinic’s success.

Through its Medical Commodities Distribution Program, UMCOR provides access to pharmaceuticals free of charge to some 150,000 vulnerable persons in urban and, especially, rural areas of Armenia. More than 100 health facilities, as well as orphanages and boarding schools for vulnerable children, participate in the UMCOR program, which is funded by the US Department of State.

The Aknalitch Ambulatory Clinic has participated in the program since 2006. It serves the tiny village of Aknalitch, with a total population of 3,330, including 800 children under the age of 18. The clinic regularly receives a wide range of essential medicines, basic medical supplies, personal hygiene items, and layette kits, which it distributes gratis to the most vulnerable members of the community.

Bandages, syringes, splints, antibiotics, anti-fungal agents, pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medicines, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal drugs, insulin and multivitamins, and many other medicines are among the essential items the program provides. Goods donated to the clinic vary depending on the community’s changing medical needs and the availability of commodities in UMCOR’s warehouse.

“UMCOR’s Medical Commodities Distribution Program is making a huge, positive difference in the work of our clinic and the lives of our villagers,” says Hasmik Baghdasaryan, the head of the clinic.

“Without UMCOR’s assistance, we wouldn’t be able to provide the most vulnerable people with necessary medicines, adequately manage many acute and chronic cases, or bring joy to mothers and their newborns. Without a doubt, the program is invaluable and crucial to our community,” she says.

“I’m so proud to consider myself a part of this program,” says Gohar Sukiasyan, a nurse and the person in charge of UMCOR’s medicine distribution. “It is deeply satisfying to realize the good you do helping people in need.”

Sukiasyan adds that she knows the program is effective when she witnesses the “growing trust and respect community members show the clinic staff, and the hearty words of gratitude they have for UMCOR and the donor organization.”

World Health Day is April 7. Mark it with your gift to Armenia Emergency, UMCOR Advance #250225, and help bring health and wellbeing to thousands of people in need in Armenia.

*Narine Harutyunyan is the Medical Commodities Distribution Program officer for UMCOR Armenia.


World Health Day is April 7. Mark it with your gift to Armenia Emergency, UMCOR Advance #250225, and help bring health and wellbeing to thousands of people in need in Armenia.