When a couple brought their newborn child to Yerevan for medical treatment, they had no idea they would be denied the right to stay in the hospital premises with their ailing daughter. The family had traveled from Gegharkunik to a Yerevan hospital so their one-month-old baby girl could receive medical care. Much to their surprise, the medical staff allegedly demanded a bribe in exchange for allowing the mother to remain with the baby throughout hospitalization and threatened to remove her from the premises if they did not comply.
The baby’s indignant father came to the Advocacy and Assistance Center (AAC) of Yerevan for help. The Yerevan AAC is one of eleven centers located throughout the country, operated by local NGOs, where victims of corruption receive free legal assistance on a walk-in or call-in basis. Noting the urgency of the matter, the AAC immediately contacted the Ministry of Health, as well as the hospital’s chief doctor. As a result, the chief doctor ordered his staff to provide the baby’s parents with accommodations at the hospital without delay, as required by law.
The AAC followed up with the baby’s parents to make sure that the doctor’s orders had been carried out. “I can’t thank the Yerevan AAC enough for the quick help they gave to my family,” said the relieved mother. “In fact, I believe you saved my daughter’s life, since, as a one-month old, she needs her parents’ constant presence.” Noting how effective the AAC’s action had been, the happy mother concluded by saying, “I encourage others to apply to the AAC if they have similar problems.”
Acts of corruption, such as requests for unofficial payments, are a recurring problem in the provision of public healthcare services in Armenia. AACs stand ready to help victims of healthcare corruption and have begun to identify regulatory reforms and other measures to prevent it.