Baku, June 9, AZERTAC
3 modular hospitals have been inaugurated with the participation of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and first lady Mehriban Aliyeva. The hospitals are built in Bilgah settlement, Baku, as well as Sumgayit city and Saray settlement, Absheron district.
One of the modular hospitals will operate under the United City Hospital No 28 in Bilgah settlement, while the other two under the City Hospital No 1 in Sumgayit city and the hospital in Saray settlement, Absheron district.
President Ilham Aliyev and first lady Mehriban Aliyeva then met with health workers.
The opening of modular hospitals to operate under the City Hospital No 1 in Sumgayit city and the hospital in Saray settlement, Absheron district then was held in a video format.
The head of state made a speech at the event.
Speech of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev
- It is a very significant day today. Three hospitals of a modular type are opening in our country. These hospitals will provide treatment for those infected with coronavirus. So yet another important step is being taken in the fight against coronavirus.
The first hospital of the modular type was opened a month ago, on 7 May, and the number of such hospitals has now reached four. Speaking at the opening ceremony on 7 May, I noted that there should be 10 such hospitals. I do hope that the remaining six hospitals will be delivered in the near future, approximately by the end of the month. Thus, we will receive an additional two thousand beds, which will further expand our capabilities in the fight against coronavirus.
It is gratifying that four of these 10 hospitals will be built by the private sector at its own expense. So the burden on the state will slightly decrease. I want to express my gratitude to representatives of the private sector, as well as ordinary citizens, for the financial assistance provided during the coronavirus. As you know, the Coronavirus Fund was set up on my initiative and an initial 20 million manats was transferred into it from the President’s Contingency Fund. Today, the amount accumulated in the Fund thanks to entrepreneurs and ordinary citizens exceeds 100 million manats. This once again suggests that our people can unite in difficult times, show solidarity and unity. Therefore, I support the active role of the private sector in these matters. At the same time, public organizations, primarily the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, other public associations and entrepreneurs, provided humanitarian assistance to those faced with material difficulties during this period, and this process continues. However, everyone knows that the main burden in this struggle, of course, rests on the shoulders of the Azerbaijani state, which is doing everything possible so that we can get out of this situation with small losses.
It is the health of Azerbaijani citizens that is at the center of all the measures being taken, and thanks to the preventive measures, the situation is fully under control today. For the last 10 days, the number of infected people has been growing. This is due to the fact that during the period when measures were relaxed, some citizens showed irresponsibility. Despite this, the situation is fully under control. There is enough room in our hospitals, including intensive care units. In addition, treatment with coronavirus patients is envisaged in an additional 10 hospitals for 2,000 beds. To date, there is no need for that yet, but we take all our steps in such a way as to be prepared for the most critical situation, in order to be able to provide medical care to all patients in the most critical situation.
I should also note that Azerbaijan is one of a handful of countries on a global scale where all those infected with coronavirus receive treatment in medical institutions. World practice is completely different. In many countries, people who have become ill and have no symptoms are treated at home and are not even admitted to hospitals. Of course, this poses a threat to their health. The low mortality rate from coronavirus in Azerbaijan is associated with the fact that all infected patients are admitted to medical facilities where they receive the necessary care.
All preventive measures have been taken so as to be prepared for the most difficult situation. To this end, new laboratories have been acquired. There are more than 20 of them now. Our best hospitals have been allocated and made available for the treatment of coronavirus-infected patients, including the “Yeni klinika”, our most modern and great hospital, and others. There are more than 20 of them. At the same time, I think that, compared to other countries, Azerbaijan has created special conditions for those placed in quarantine. These people are placed in 4-5-star hotels, as well as the Athletes Village. Most of the quarantined people are in the Athletes Village. Thousands of people have been evacuated from abroad and this process continues – on schedule, of course. There, too, all work should be carried out in an organized manner. As you know, a special website has been created where those who want to return to Azerbaijan are registered and are delivered to our country at the expense of the state and on the basis of a queue. In other words, all conditions have been created for the citizens of Azerbaijan to be treated with attention and care by the state. I believe that the work done so far and its results are a reflection of this particular policy. It is no coincidence that the world approves of the way coronavirus is fought in Azerbaijan. The World Health Organization has described Azerbaijan as an exemplary country in this area, and has done so several times. Both at the first stage of the pandemic, when we took operational measures, all the necessary restrictive steps, and at the subsequent stage. Representatives of the World Health Organization recently praised the work done in Azerbaijan again.
Our main goal is to protect people from this disease and save their lives. Of course, we have had losses, but in comparison with some countries, the situation in Azerbaijan is much better. This indicates that where there is a thought-out policy, unity between the people and the government, high confidence in the actions taken by the state, there is a result. I still receive daily letters from hundreds of citizens. These letters praise the work being done. Only a small part of these letters is published in the media. However, they show that letters are coming from all our districts, from people of all categories, and people express appreciation. At the same time, the material problems of our citizens who found themselves in a difficult situation during the period of restrictions have also been resolved. Azerbaijan has shown leadership here. In general, funds in the amount of 3.5 billion manats have been allocated for the fight against the pandemic and for the unemployed affected by it, for vulnerable people and entrepreneurs, and for the organization of all this work, and these funds are being spent. The acquisition of medical equipment and drugs – the state has allocated large funds for all this.
I also highly appreciate the activities of the agencies that have organized this work. The Task Force, the Agency on Mandatory Health Insurance and “TƏBİB” are active. I want to emphasize the activities and, dedication of our doctors. The people of Azerbaijan highly value the dedication of our doctors. I also want to thank all the doctors again. They are risking their lives. They have not been able to see their families for months. They have been with the patients in the most difficult conditions, with special clothing on and around the clock, saving their lives. We have achieved a very low mortality rate primarily thanks to the professionalism and dedication of doctors.
Therefore, looking at the events taking place in the world and the disastrous situation associated with coronavirus in many developed countries, we see once again that Azerbaijan has introduced its own model in this area, was able to consistently and steadily achieve all of its goals. Of course, I do not intend to compare us with other countries but everything in the world is relative. For example, the number of infected people in Azerbaijan constitutes about 8,000, more than 350,000 tests have been carried out and we are in one of the leading places for the number of tests per capita. In neighboring Armenia, the number of infected people exceeds 13,000 people and the number of tests they have done is less than ours five- to six-fold. Given that our population is five times bigger than Armenia’s, the picture is absolutely clear. Whereas I receive hundreds of letters of appreciation every day, the Armenian leadership hears hundreds of calls with curses.
I can make another comparison with developed countries. For example, in several developed countries the number of deaths is higher than our number of infected. In fact, this is happening in such developed countries where the healthcare system has always been considered a standard, a model. In some developed countries with about the same population as ours, about 10,000 people died. We have only 8,000 infected people. Therefore, our approach of providing medical aid to every infected person is the most correct and most humane approach, and additional steps will be taken in this direction.
We are also using our industrial capabilities. In a short period of time, enterprises producing medical masks were launched. Currently, there are two such enterprises in operation. Disinfectants are already produced in Azerbaijan. At the same time, Azerbaijan produces special clothing and overalls for doctors. We are also importing medical masks from abroad because the demand is growing, which is directly related to restrictive measures. We see that our people have been using medical masks more often lately. I want to say again: this is necessary indoors. I use a medical mask in all indoor places, and everyone should use it indoors – on public transport, in offices, in shopping centers. Outdoors, it is also recommended but if there is no close contact you don’t have to use a mask. But in closed places everyone must use a mask, everyone must observe a distance and personal hygiene. Only these three factors need to be taken into account – doctors and various public figures have spoken about this perhaps a thousand times: a medical mask, a distance of one and a half to two meters and disinfectants. These factors, according to the unanimous opinion of doctors, protect people by 95 percent. Therefore, I earnestly ask citizens to observe these very simple rules and know that the coronavirus has not disappeared.
All countries, including Azerbaijan, are now easing the restrictions. Despite this, as I said, if we see that the number of patients increases sharply, then we will introduce restrictions again. The reason for the restrictive steps is clear. Some people are irresponsible. On the whole, however, I can say that Azerbaijani society shows a great responsibility and respects discipline. A special quarantine regime on weekends confirmed this – there were very few violations of the rules. This indicates that citizens are aware of their responsibility. But this must be understood by every citizen because one irresponsible person can infect a hundred people, put them and their lives at risk.
Coronavirus has not disappeared and will not disappear. According to the general opinion of doctors, people will be suffering from this disease until the vaccine is developed. Therefore, we must also be prepared to live within the new rules of conduct. There is no other way today. I want to say again: these rules of conduct do not cause people any particular discomfort. You just have to follow the rules that I talked about and be more responsible.
During this period, the Azerbaijani state showed great responsibility, primarily within the country. There were two ways: either to save the economy or people's lives. For me personally, without any hesitation, people's health has always been first priority, during the pandemic too. Therefore, we deliberately went to restrictive measures knowing that this would negatively affect our economic activity. I mentioned the results achieved last month – there was a slight increase of 0.2 percent. However, I assumed that the results of five months would already reflect a decline, and so it happened. I am told that the gross domestic product for five months dropped by 1.7 percent. Nevertheless, compared with many developed countries, the decline is very small. I must note that in parallel with this, industrial production has slightly increased. In the non-oil sector, industry grew by 14 percent. Growth in agriculture was 3.6 percent. The average monthly wage approached 740 manats. This is approximately $430. Inflation is below 3 percent, i.e. it is at the predicted level.
Therefore, if you look at the overall situation, our economic activity during this period was also very successful. Even if the economy suffers a recession, it will be restored, but it is impossible to restore people's lives. Human life is priceless. Therefore, safety and human health have been and will continue to be the main factors for us. The upward trend on infected patients indicates that this is what mitigation has led to. However, the situation is still under control. The key factor here is the difference in the number of infected and recovering people. Today, this difference is such that our healthcare system can handle it. The main reason for the high number of deaths in many countries is that their healthcare system collapsed, i.e. they cannot accept patients, so there are massive deaths. The healthcare opportunities we have today allow us to keep the situation fully under control. However, everyone should know that we must maintain this situation, maintain and strive to increase positive trends, which is what we are doing.
As for our role in the international plane, as you know, Azerbaijan acts very responsibly. I have already noted that, first of all, two summits took place in the country and in the international arena on our initiative: the Summit of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States and the Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement. I must say that 120 countries were represented at the Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement. At the same time, the African Union, which unites 55 countries, also joined it. The European Union participated in an event of the Non-Aligned Movement at such a high level for the first time and generally for the first time. The European Union includes 27 countries. True, some countries of the African Union are also members of the Non-Aligned Movement. However, despite all this, I can say with full responsibility that Azerbaijan has united the whole world. The adopted Declaration recognizes a special role of Azerbaijan. Of course, this is another contribution to our international authority, which is already at a high level. Azerbaijan has shown leadership.
At the same time, by addressing, first of all, to the members of the Non-Aligned Movement, we suggested holding a special session of the UN General Assembly related to COVID-19. We received support and members of the Non-Aligned Movement unanimously supported our initiative, after which we addressed the UN Secretary General. He said his word at the Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement and read out his appeal, and now we are waiting for an answer. I believe that in the current conditions it is necessary for the world community to take a unified position on this issue. The United Nations brings together the entire world community. Therefore, we made such a proposal and are hoping that it will be treated positively. We are currently conducting consultations in a bilateral and multilateral format, and if this proposal is accepted, then, as I said, the world community, united at the initiative of Azerbaijan once again, will say its word on this issue.
The key thing here is not to withdraw into oneself. We remember quite well that at the early stages of the pandemic, some countries withdrew into themselves. Some countries acted in such a way in humanitarian matters they probably felt ashamed afterwards. Some countries were in panic. We sometimes experienced difficulties with the delivery of purchased medical equipment. Therefore, I believe that in the current conditions, the world community should act from a single position. At the same time, we provided individual humanitarian assistance to 14 countries. Countries that needed help contacted us. At the same time, we are providing humanitarian assistance to another 15 countries through the World Health Organization. The process is ongoing. These 15 countries are members of the Non-Aligned Movement. Their list has been approved by the World Health Organization and Azerbaijan. The key criterion here is the most needy countries.
As you know, Azerbaijan has individually made two donations to the World Health Organization. Thus, we provided humanitarian assistance to 29 countries through an international organization. I currently monitor the processes taking place in the world in relation to this issue, the current picture, and I can say with full confidence that Azerbaijan is one of the countries that provided the greatest humanitarian assistance during the pandemic. Such is our country, such are the advantages of our independence. Who would have thought that Azerbaijan could deal with this misfortune on its own, so skillfully, professionally, patiently and with dignity? Who could have thought 10 or 20 years ago that Azerbaijan could provide humanitarian assistance to almost 30 countries? Some countries at the time, as they say, appropriated humanitarian aid intended for others. Therefore, we are pursuing a correct and dignified policy both domestically and internationally, and respect and sympathy for us are growing every day.
Along with all these issues, I want to return to the future period again. Azerbaijani citizens support all our steps although it is clear that the pandemic has affected, negatively affected the normal way of our people’s lives. People have somewhat moved away from their usual way of life. There are restrictions. At the same time, new restrictions are already being introduced. But Azerbaijani citizens know that these restrictions are aimed primarily at protecting people. We will do our best to protect people. Therefore, I want to once again thank the citizens of Azerbaijan for their support provided during this period, for their solidarity. However, I urge all citizens to show more responsibility and discipline. We have demonstrated and will continue to demonstrate unity. It is no coincidence that the slogan “We are strong together!” became a consolidating slogan during the pandemic.
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President Ilham Aliyev: You know that I always pay great attention to the city of Sumgayit. I have repeatedly been there as President – on average, at least twice a year, sometimes even more often. The development of the industrial potential of Sumgayit is evident today. Sumgayit is the second largest industrial city and a modern industrial city not only in Azerbaijan but also in the South Caucasus. As you know – the older generation knows this quite well – Sumgayit had a very difficult environmental situation in the old days. All the newly commissioned enterprises meet environmental standards by 100 percent. Therefore, the environmental situation in Sumgayit has significantly improved now. The air is clean. Sumgayit today is a city of parks and squares. Landscaping is under way. The Ajidara canal, which has been a source of people’s concern and environmental problems, is also being cleaned up. Large funds have also been allocated for this. In parallel, urban infrastructure is being updated, including the construction of social facilities. After the renovation of City Hospital No. 1, the situation got even better, of course.
Currently, the construction of hospital No. 2 is underway on my instruction. The initial suggestion was to renovate it. However, I was subsequently informed that this was impossible and the hospital would be rebuilt. This once again shows that work done in a timely manner can prove useful at the most critical moment. As you know, it is possible to say that the construction of new hospitals is nearing completion throughout the country. Hospitals have yet to be commissioned in one or two cities, but this is also planned. Thus, all the cities of our country have modern medical institutions, in fact, at the level of the central district hospital, and there are also about 20 medical diagnostic centers. First of all, if it weren’t for this infrastructure, we would not be able to switch to a system of compulsory medical insurance now, because the main condition for this is to ensure a modern level of the existing infrastructure.
As you know, we were supposed to switch to compulsory health insurance in the country at the beginning of this year, but the pandemic interfered with our plans. Having implemented several pilot projects, we saw what its advantages are, and so did our citizens. Therefore, there are plans to switch to compulsory health insurance in the country from the beginning of next year. I want to say again: if we had not built these medical facilities in a timely manner, then it would have been impossible to treat patients today. Notice that coronavirus patients are being treated in more than 20 hospitals, in all of the recently built hospitals in the regions. If they were not there, where would they be treated? Where in Baku are they mostly treated: at the Surgical Clinic of the Medical University and the Educational and Therapeutic Clinic of the Medical University. This is where the majority of patients are being treated. There are 575 beds in the new clinic. All other renovated or rebuilt clinics are provided with medical equipment. The latest equipment produced by leading companies allows us to provide treatment for all patients. This is the work done. Over the past 16 years, more than 700 medical facilities have been rebuilt or overhauled. This powerful social healthcare infrastructure has allowed us the opportunity to overcome this situation with dignity. We are creating an additional 2,000 beds so that there is spare capacity, so that if, God forbid, the disease spreads more, we have the opportunities. If necessary, we will build another 10 hospitals. So we can and will find the resources for this purpose.
I want to say again that during this period, Azerbaijan asserted itself in the international arena as a very strong state in political terms, a strong state in the economic and social spheres. We demonstrated that the people of Azerbaijan are at the center of our policy. I should also note that over this period, according to the estimates of leading international financial institutions, more than 150 countries have turned to international financial institutions for help. Azerbaijan is not on this list. We don’t get help from anyone, don’t ask anyone for it, we don’t want loans. We can take a loan only for the implementation of projects in the field of high technology on conditions acceptable to us. Therefore, in all respects, Azerbaijan has demonstrated leadership that has long gone beyond the borders of our region.
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President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you very much! I would like to recognize the work of doctors yet again. During this period, the Azerbaijani state, the Azerbaijani people and myself saw that doctors are faithful to the Hippocratic oath and are honorably fulfilling their official duties. There are also infected people among the doctors. At the risk of their lives, they are treating the sick and bringing them back to life. It is no coincidence that the Flame Towers, one of the new symbols of our country and city, reflected the famous slogan, “Kudos to Azerbaijani doctors!” on my initiative.
I want to say again, “Kudos to Azerbaijani doctors”, and recognize them by standing up. Thank you!
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