Ganja, June 24, AZERTAC
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and first lady Mehriban Aliyeva have attended the opening of a modular hospital in the city of Ganja.
After viewing the conditions created in the hospital, the head of state and first lady met with a group of health workers.
President Ilham Aliyev addressed the meeting.
Speech by President Ilham Aliyev
- A modular-type hospital opens in Ganja today. I congratulate on this remarkable occasion.
A hospital with 200 beds built on the basis of modern technologies is being commissioned in a short period of time. Considering the fact that the fight against coronavirus continues, this hospital is very important.
A fifth hospital of a modular type is opening today. Two have already started to operate in Baku, one in Sumgayit and one in the Absheron district. In the coming weeks, hospitals of this type will be commissioned in other cities as well. Thus, the number of these hospitals will reach 10. This will allow us the opportunity to obtain an additional 2,000 beds. Given the fact that the number of infections is increasing, this should play a role in the fight against COVID-19.
The decision to build these hospitals was made in April this year. There weren’t many patients at the time. At the same time, you probably remember that the difference between those infected and recovering was positive in April. People recovered faster than they got infected. Despite this, we felt that extra beds would be useful. Life has shown how correct that decision was because the number of patients is growing now, so we need new beds.
In general, I can say that if modern hospitals had not been built throughout our country on my instructions in recent years, including Baku, we could face major problems in the fight against coronavirus today. In recent years, one of the most important issues in strengthening the healthcare system in our country has been the construction of new hospitals and the overhaul and restoration of the old ones. Thus, hospitals have been built in the vast majority of our cities and construction continues in several cities. The last hospital will be commissioned in the city of Samukh. Funds have been allocated for this purpose and additional funds will also be allocated. Today, coronavirus patients in the city of Baku mainly receive treatment in hospitals built in recent years. It is worth noting is the “Yeni Klinik” hospital. It is the best, most modern clinic and one of the largest medical institutions in our country. Today, patients are receiving treatment in the clinic with approximately 600 beds. At the same time, we treat patients at the educational-therapeutic and surgical buildings of the Azerbaijan Medical University built on my initiative several years ago.
The preventive measures taken in relation to the coronavirus at the initial stage saved us from great troubles because the number of people infected in Azerbaijan is very small in relation to the total population. Only 13,000 people have been infected. The vast majority of them have recovered and been discharged from hospitals. Therefore, preventive and restrictive measures have been of great help.
As you know, the whole world is suffering from this disease and the sharp increase in the number of patients has dealt a significant blow to the healthcare system of many countries. In fact, not one country’s health system was prepared to treat such a rapidly growing number of patients. And this is actually impossible. Another problem is related to the number of doctors serving patients. In just two to three months, the number of doctors can’t get any bigger. Therefore, this has become a major problem for many countries, including ourselves. So the adoption of restrictive measures has been of great help. As you know, easing trends began in early May. As I said earlier, this was due to the fact that there were more people recovering than those getting infected.
However, the dynamics of the past few days indicates that, despite all our demands, some people show a lack of responsibility and do not follow fundamental rules. These rules have probably been discussed a thousand times already. They have been spoken about by myself, doctors, medical specialists and different people. These rules are very straightforward not only in Azerbaijan but also throughout the world, and compliance with them does not require too much work – wearing a mask, observing a distance and disinfection. These three key factors can protect people. If we comply with them, the number of infected people will sharply decrease. But what do we see instead? We see that after the restrictions were eased, these rules have been violated in Azerbaijan en masse. This is exactly why we re-introduced restrictive measures because we saw that the number of patients and the dynamics of the incidence have been increasing, and if this goes on, our healthcare system will not be able to cope with it. Therefore, at the beginning of this week, a more stringent quarantine regime was introduced in Baku and several other cities. The main and only reason for this is that some people, unfortunately, do not follow the basic rules of protection. Time and the spread of the coronavirus will tell how long this tightened regime lasts.
Doctors are well aware and the public has also repeatedly been informed that the main goal of tightening the restrictions is to reduce the rate of infection. Everyone understands that coronavirus has not disappeared and will not disappear. We have to live with this disease, and it is necessary to introduce new rules of public conduct. Therefore, the main efforts of all countries are focused on reducing the rate of infection so that as few people as possible get infected and the healthcare system of each country allows all patients the opportunity to receive proper treatment. Therefore, we took this step, and I believe that we have acted correctly even though some countries have gone even further by taking more mitigating steps. Of course, the main reason for that is problems in the economic sphere.
We also have such problems, the results of five months indicate that our economy is also in a recession. It is not particularly large – only 1.7 percent. But at the beginning of the year, we demonstrated excellent economic performance. We had major plans and great prospects. All leading international financial institutions also saw 2020 as a year of rapid development in Azerbaijan and were declaring that. We deliberately took restrictive measures. I can say that we were among trailblazers in the world in taking the necessary restrictive measures, shut down schools, universities, catering facilities and large retail outlets to prevent mass infection.
This is why I believe we have taken the right step because I want to say again – I have already said this – that people's health is the top priority for me. Of course, the economy is in recession and it remains to be seen what problems await us for the rest of the year. Everyone should know this. At the same time, the oil price in world markets has not yet stabilized. Of course, the sharp collapse was averted and the oil price was gradually restored. However, Azerbaijan’s budget is designed for an oil price of $55, and for five months of this year the average oil price is $41. Therefore, our revenues is shrinking. Several important sectors of the economy are almost inactive. One of them is the tourism sector. Over the past four to five years, we have developed the tourism sector as a powerful and driving sector, and the number of visitors to Azerbaijan has increased every year. Last year, it reached a record high; 3 million foreigners came to our country. According to various estimates, they spent about $1.5 to 2 billion in Azerbaijan. This means an increase in the currency coming into our country. So we have lost this.
Several other sectors have been inactive for a long time. The state has taken on the problems of these sectors and the people working there. Now we are providing the necessary funds for more than 600,000 people. The term for payments of 190 manat has been extended, although this is also a big burden and is fraught with major expenses. But we are doing this because people who have lost their jobs or belong to low-income categories, even those working informally, have actually found themselves in a difficult situation. Who will help them?! The Azerbaijani state is always next to its citizens.
Therefore, both at the first stage, when tight restrictive measures were introduced, and today, when we are forced to take this step once again, there was no choice for me personally. The life and health of people come first. Economic problems should be put on the backburner.
Moreover, as a result of the work done in recent years and the reforms that have been implemented, we have significantly increased our economic power. Our economy is stable and sustainable. I believe that even if the problems in the economic sphere aggravate further by the end of the year, this will not have a major impact on people's lifestyle. Not a single social project has been reduced. This is evidenced by the number of sites that have opened and will open as part of my visit to Ganja. Not a single social project has been reduced. On the contrary, we provide the construction of 10 modular hospitals. We are building new settlements for internally displaced persons. One of them is located in Samukh District. New schools are being built. Today I got acquainted with the construction of a new residential complex being built by the State Agency for Housing Construction in Ganja. A school and a kindergarten are also being built there. All this is provided at the expense of the state budget.
I said that there would be no cuts in the social sphere. I believe that regardless of the scale of the coronavirus pandemic, the standard of living of our people should remain unchanged until the end of the year. Last year – this is well known to everyone – a very large social package was implemented. The minimum wage doubled on average and the minimum pension was increased by 70 percent. Benefits increased by 50 and 100 percent. Problem loans were given to people as a material gift in the form of compensation. In other words, billions of manats were spent on that. Over 3 billion manats is envisaged for combating the pandemic. Some of these funds have been used up, as we are acquiring new equipment. Today we have 23 laboratories. At the same time, the problem is that sometimes we cannot purchase equipment or a device ordered in February or March because the countries that produce them do not sell them any more and keep them for themselves. This is the problem.
So our country is faced with this problem, and we must try to overcome this situation with dignity. But if the steps being taken by the state are not supported by the public en masse, then this will be useless. And what is this support about? Just follow three basic rules, stick to them and show responsibility and discipline. We have demonstrated unity and accord. We are solving the problems of people in a difficult situation, including public organizations, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. Of course, the main burden falls on the state. Assistance is provided to low-income categories. More than 100 million manats has been donated by entrepreneurs and ordinary people into the Coronavirus Fund set up by my initiative. This is a lot of money and a manifestation of solidarity. We must show responsibility, just as we have been showing accord and unity. According to leaders of several developed countries, this is a war against an invisible enemy. At the same time, it is not known when it will end. No-one can say that. Of course, everyone is waiting for the vaccine today, including ourselves. However, according to some doctors, perhaps the vaccine will not be able to completely destroy this coronavirus. Who knows? The vaccine has not yet been developed. Work is still under way on this. The number of infected people is growing, and so is the threat. Therefore, people’s responsibility should be exclusively in the foreground.
The state is doing everything necessary. It is impossible to do something more than this, as we have done and will do everything necessary. We are ready to spend any resources on this, we have them and we are not dependent on anyone. Unlike some countries, we do not ask anyone for help. I must also note that, according to international financial institutions, 150 countries have applied for loans. This is the bulk of the international community. Azerbaijan did not do this because it is not necessary need. We do everything we need ourselves, we have the resources and we are spending them. But irresponsible people should understand this. In addition, public condemnation of such people is necessary. Those who don’t wear masks in closed places, of course, must be fined. At the same time, citizens seeing this must condemn and explain. You should not wait for the police to come and fine such a person. The police are also on the streets around the clock to protect people; they work continuously, day and night. Therefore, everyone should wear masks indoors.
I wear a mask. I showed this before and I am showing it again. In all closed places I put on a mask. After all, if the President does it, why can't others do it? What is so complicated? It does not cause any inconvenience, does not create any problems. It is a simple lack of responsibility, I would even describe it as selfishness and indifference. For representatives of the younger generation, this disease is not so dangerous, they believe that they would get sick and recover. You will recover, but at the same time you will infect an elderly person. You will endanger their lives. Do we really have to tolerate such irresponsibility? After all, this is a crime. Therefore, public censure and very strict state control are necessary. In this regard, I gave the Operational Headquarters an instruction: strict state control must be exercised. In this case, we will be able to quickly take all necessary measures and get out of this situation with small losses. I have said this before and doctors are well aware of this. So many doctors are working to treat one patient, so many doctors are in this difficult situation around the clock, they suffer in overalls, glasses and masks. We highly appreciate the activities of doctors. But everyone should know this – doctors are also infected, they also die. I want to repeat: we are attracting all our doctors to these matters. We do not have twice as many doctors. If the pandemic spreads further and, for example, if 300-400 people get infected today and even more tomorrow, then where will we place them? Let’s assume that we will place them – hospitals are being built now and we have free beds – but how can we increase the number of doctors?! Everyone should think about that.
If managers see that their employees do not wear masks, they must, of course, take measures, immediately respond and inform appropriate agencies. If this continues, then I will instruct to increase the size of fines because why people who have great capabilities today should pay fines of 50 or 100 manats? They get out, get into a car and drive wherever they want. Whether they will be stopped or not is also unknown because it is impossible to stop everyone. They pay a fine, leave and do everything they want. Therefore, I said: state bodies, local executive bodies and law enforcement agencies should exercise more strict control over this because it is a matter of national security.
Take a look at what is happening in developed countries. The situation is on the verge of a crisis. Even countries with centuries old traditions of statehood, countries the healthcare system of which has always been portrayed as a model for the whole world are unable to cope with this situation because it is impossible. Therefore, I believe that my words should become the basis for everyone: for citizens because they should also show responsibility and for government officials. State control, public control, discipline and responsibility of citizens should increase. If we see that discipline continues to be violated, we will think about what other effective steps to take in order to apply stricter measures to those who violate these rules.
Along with all this, I must say that life goes on. We must fulfill all the programs planned for this year. Several important facilities are to be opened in Ganja today. I have already taken part in the opening of a new plant today. I am told that more than 300 people will be provided with jobs there. The products of the plant will replace imports and provide for the local market.
I have issued a relevant instructions on the restoration of historical monuments in Ganja. You know quite well that the reconstruction and expansion of the historical and religious complex “Imamzade”, which is very dear and sacred for all our people, the construction of mosques and the creation of other buildings have been carried out ensured. We will open the Shah Abbas and Ugurlu Khan caravansaries today. According to my instructions, the second “ASAN xidmət” center will operate in Ganja, because the population of the city increases and so does the number of services in “ASAN xidmət” centers. Therefore, people are queuing up. I have given the instruction and the second “ASAN xidmət” will be commissioned in the near future. The construction of the Ganja State Drama Theater is under way. I remember drama theater actors appealing to me during one of my visits to Ganja. I accepted this appeal and gave instructions to build a beautiful drama theater. The second Olympic sports center is under construction. When the first center was built, I was not the president. I did this job as president of the National Olympic Committee. But we need a second sports center.
As you know, the Ganja State Philharmonic Hall was built on my instructions. It is a beautiful architectural monument. Necessary infrastructure projects are also being implemented. I must note that, according to my instructions, the first “Green City” project in our country will be implemented in Ganja. For this reason, we are taking a loan of about 70 million euros from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. I must also say that, on my instructions, loans can be sought only as an exceptional case because we have enough of our own funds. I want our external public debt to become even smaller even though it is now below 20 percent now. We take loans only for strategic and technologically intensive projects, and I gave permission to take this loan. The “Green City” project in Ganja will cover public transport. Then comes street lighting – I know that there is a problem with that – as well as the disposal of solid domestic waste. At the initial stage, these three issues of concern to people will be resolved. Of course, we will continue to take all necessary steps at the expense of the state budget.
I come to Ganja regularly. This is my 16th trip as president. So I visit Ganja at least once a year on average. Today Ganja is becoming an industrial center of our country. At the same time, it is a cultural center with a long history. Of course, it is the responsibility of all of us to preserve history.
At the same time, I am very glad that as a result of the rapid development of agriculture and the improvement of the financial situation of the people involved in agriculture, there is great interest in this area. The number of applications to Ganja State Agrarian University is growing. The construction of a new building is already being completed. I will be familiarized with it today. Specialists necessary for our country will be trained in Ganja.
I want to say again: life goes on. Everything necessary is being done. Of course, the fight against coronavirus in top of our agenda. Along with all the state measures, the main responsibility lies with the doctors. I want to repeat: I appreciate the word doctors are doing. Doctors have recently celebrated a professional holiday. I congratulate you on this occasion and wish you continued success. You are at the forefront of the fight against coronavirus, risking your health, life and the health of your loved ones. But it is your realization of the civic duty that prompts you to do this.
I wish you success and good health. Take care of yourself and treat the patients, so that we can come out of this difficult situation with small losses together. Thank you!
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