A healthy soldier – a combative army

Conversation with RA Minister of Defense Seyran Ohanyan


_Mr. Ohanyan, the number of non-governmental organizations supporting the army, criticizing the shortcomings and deficiencies of the army has increased by one more organization – <<Armenian Association of Military Doctors>> has started its activity.  It already has its website, publishes its first trilingual edition and in a few days it will carry out one of its large-scale initiative together with the Ministry of Defense – the international conference on <<Modern issues of military medicine>>. What are our expectations from this newly-created non-governmental organization?


_First of all, I would like to congratulate the <<Armenian Association of Military Doctors>> on its formation and wish it a productive activity. I have always welcomed the activity of non-governmental organizations which contribute to the solution of inter-army issues with their activity. We have never avoided from criticism considering that healthy criticism is one of the important conditions of development and progress. As for the <<Armenian Association of Military Doctors>>it differs from other non-governmental organizations as it has a professional orientation, it joins both civil and military doctors and its efforts are directed to the reform and improvement of the sphere of military medicine. I am acquainted with the programs of the organization, they are very ambitious and in order to implement them hard work, energy and devotion will be required.  It is creditable, that the best doctors are involved in the organization council who can greatly support the medical service of the army, as well as promote its progress. Military doctors uniting with their partners working in civil medical facilities in the same non-governmental organization will have one more platform to speak about their problems, to discuss issues of their concern, to associate, to debate and to search efficient ways for the solution of the problems.


_Mr. Ohanyan, what stages of development has the military medicine had in Armenia and what is its present condition?


_In fact, the formation of military medicine started before the formation of the national army – on the days of liberal struggle when the volunteer doctors left for the front. They were enrolled in liberal groups and did their best to help the soldiers and fighters. When the military-medical department of armed forces was created in accordance with the decree of the Minister of Defense in 1992, the process of the formation of the structure started. At the beginning the medical provision was implemented mainly through civil medical facilities and the military-medical structure was replenished by doctors of civil medical facilities.  It was a period of devotion and enthusiasm when there was not an adjusted work and a group of patriotic people due to supernatural efforts tried to provide the troops with medical assistance and form the military-medical service. The process of development of laws and decrees regulating the service started in that period. Later a complex program of military-medical service was implemented which involved a number of global events such as improvement of housing conditions of medical service (construction and renovation of medical clinics), technical equipment of medical service (portable fluorography, new intensive care and anesthesia devices, reanimobiles and air ambulance were introduced), departments of Diagnostic Radiology were created and diagnostic center was upgraded. Preventive work was carried out and a struggle against infections started. One of the most important achievements of that period was the success obtained during the struggle against tuberculosis, as well as prevention and treatment of atypical pneumonia. That period is characterized by efficient staff policy and the improvement of the structure of medical service, as well.  The stage following it was a period of continuing and equitable development of medical service. At this period the technical equipment went parallel with the improvement of doctors’ professional skills. Due to the improvement of housing conditions the content of medical service directly changed putting emphasize to the eradication of prerequisites for disease and to preventive works. Currently, the recruiters receive preventive vaccination against 9 diseases in the result of which the manageable infections likehepatitis, measles, rubella and meningitis have almost been eradicated in the army.

_I would ask you to speak also about the targeted programs implemented in the sphere of military medicine.


_We had a problem to bring the housing conditions of all subdivisions of medical service to certain standards. The medical clinics, as well as hospitals were involved in the program. We built new buildings, completely renovated all those structures which did not correspond to the established standards.

If in the past we could see poor buildings near the splendid ones, later the essential difference between them was almost eliminated and a new quality of .medical service was recorded for the whole army. The issue of replenishing all the subdivisions of the army with appropriate staff was involved in the program, as well. We focused particularly on the military unit s. Our staff started having trainings abroad. The technical equipment of the army medical service was one of the basic issues. All the bodies of medical service were provided with modern equipment which brought the medical provision to a new level. The soldiers were taken from blindages to lodgings which are not wet, have heating and air cleaning system. We started to give the soldiers vitaminized food.


A period of landmark reforms has started – a new stage of scientific-technical progress, quality development which involves all the directions and structures of medical service. Currently, doctors of medical sciences, more than 3 dozens of candidates of medical sciences are working in the military-medical structure and numerous doctor and candidate theses are being prepared. The achievements of our doctors on the treatment of firearm injuries have interested the European countries, as well. The military service cooperates with such countries as the USA, Germany, Russian Federation, Greece, China and Belarus.


_The efficient medical provision to the soldier is indeed important but the creation of appropriateprerequisites for the soldier not to get sick is more important. I would like to speak about the issues on preserving soldier’s health.


_The healthy soldier is the first guarantee of combative army. The formation of prerequisites of having a healthy soldier starts in civil life, before the recruitment period. The fact that the pre-recruitment age has been lowered and pursuant to the appropriate decree territorial polyclinics are tasked to periodically examine recruiters starting from the age of 13-14, reveal the diseases and provide appropriate medical assistance, is already a prerequisite to have a healthy soldier in the army. The next prerequisite is clarification of the leverage forbidding sick soldiers to enter the army and efficient activity. We have recorded essential success in this sphere, as well. I think, the committee equipped with military doctors carries out its work conscientiously. In case of the most trivial complaint and doubt the recruiter is subject to additional examination. As a result, in recent years the number of sick recruiters has drastically decreased, the faults are sporadic. The death toll because of illness has essentially been reduced in recent years.


_Which are the vulnerable rings of medical service?

_We must raise the level of education in the process of preparing a military doctor and provide the inflow of contract doctors to the army. We must pay a particular attention to the medical service of unit ring and suburban hospitals. We can solve the problem of equipping the army with healthy soldiers more easily if in pre-recruitment stage the works of examination of future soldier are more regulated, and besides diagnosis, an appropriate medical assistance is provided.


_Mr. Ohanyan, thank you for beneficial conversation.