WHO carries out assessment mission for strengthening primary healthcare capacity amidst COVID-19 in Shamakhi district

Baku, December 25, AZERTAC

The WHO Country Office in Azerbaijan had a three-day mission to Shamakhi district to assess the learning needs of healthcare workers and attitudes of local community members toward primary healthcare as part of the WHO Preventing Excess Death During the COVID-19 Pandemic (PROACT-Care) project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the WHO Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives programme.

According to the WHO Country Office, PROACT-Care aims to strengthen primary healthcare capacity to respond to the interruption of essential health care services in the context of COVID-19 and beyond, and at the same time, create a real-life demonstration of a primary healthcare model tailored for Azerbaijan, which could then be scaled-up to the whole country.

Seven focus groups were held to identify learning needs of primary healthcare workers. Focus groups were attended by 45 medical personnel from 27 primary healthcare facilities - 14 village doctor’s points, 11 village medical points, 2 Family Health Centers. Invaluable information regarding the needs and capabilities of Shamakhi healthcare workers were obtained, which will be used to develop training modules tailored to their needs.

The mission team which was joined by a representative of TABIB also met with Director of the Shamakhi Central District Hospital Ehtiram Rustamzada and a representative from the Shamakhi District Executive Authority, with whom the team discussed project plans, particularly in the field of healthcare workers capacity building and skills development. “This mission was productive from all viewpoints as its objectives address very actual issues, I can say that such a meeting was long-awaited,” Rustamzada said. The mission team also handed over 12,500 medical masks from WHO to the hospital to support the efforts to tackle COVID-19.

As part of the visit, the team also had focus groups with local community members. Community engagement focus groups with local residents are the first step to understand the current state of access to PHC from the local perspective. Six focus groups were conducted in Ahmadli and Galeybughurd villages and the city of Shamakhi with the participation of over 40 community members. The findings will be used as a baseline for the project planning and implementation, particularly for the upcoming telephone survey in the district about the perceptions of access to PHC.

“We learned a lot from this visit. Now we have a deeper understanding of the needs of local communities and healthcare workers in Shamakhi, their expectations and how we can cooperate toward better primary healthcare,” said WHO expert and the mission lead Halil Ibrahim Durak. “It was the first close encounter, but not the last. We will continue working together, learn together, change together and, of course, leave no one behind,” he added.

The mission will conclude with meetings with representatives of the Ministry of Health, SAMHI and TABIB in Baku, with whom PROACT-Care project will closely cooperate.

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