Our military medicine evolves

Artashes Parsadanyan

Ex-head of military-Medical Department of RA Armed Forces, Colonel, doctor, professor of medical sciences

_When and how was the military medicine formed in Armenia?

The military medicine exists in Armenia from long ago; when the armed forces were formed the specialists providing medical aid always existed in parallel. Initially they were of priest types then traditional healers appeared but the military-medical structure, as it is, appeared in the Armenian army for the first time at the beginning of the previous century – during the formation of the first republic. There was an independent state, there was an army therefore the elements of military medicine were formed; a medical personnel was formed, small hospitals were founded. Later when Armenia became a soviet country the Armenian military medicine was already operating in the frames of regular troops of the Soviet Union. Armenian military doctors were always among the best doctors in the Soviet army. Armenian military medicine developed greatly especially at the Great Patriotic war. During that period professors, scientists and practical surgeons appeared. We had Colonel Burnazyan who was one of the chief specialists of the Soviet army, Lieutenant-Colonel Levon Orbeli and many others. However, I must mention that the main formation and development of Armenian military medicine took place at Artsakh war. As soon as the armed forces were formed after becoming independent military-medical service was created as a stable structure. During the war numerous Armenian devotee doctors, who had come out in the Soviet army, came to Armenia and had their own investment here. The civil doctors made great efforts together with them. The students of upper years of the Institute even were involved in the detachments and provided fighters with medical aid. That was the stage of creation of military-medical service. On 28 January, 1992 there was a decree according to which the military-medical department was created in the army in addition to other departments.

_What achievements and progress did the military-medical department have?

_The military-medical service exists in the Armenian army for already 22 years. During its formation it has passed through several stages. Today we can say that it is already a formed structure. I would say even a well-formed structure as its bases are put at the expense of great work. The military-medical service of the army has always been supported by ministers of Defense and the chief headquarter of the armed forces. The support has been on several issues; preparation of personnel, technical equipment, provision of housing conditions, development of preventive medicine and others. Particularly, from 2006 to 2011 the military medicine had a flight-like development, it was replenished by personnel with academic education, housing conditions were improved, as well as new hospitals were built. For example, when I was taking up the post of the head of the department there were a few soviet apparatus for artificial respiration, yet they were unfit. There was also a French apparatus but again it was out of order. Instead of starting a technical upgrade we started to change everything. Everything was changed from the basis. We got to a point which at that time was considered a culmination for Armenia. Besides improving the housing conditions we managed to be engaged in scientific activity, as well. 29 candidates of science, as well as 6 doctors worked with us. Our best doctors came out with inventions as well as introduction of newest medical methods. We had great progress in the sphere of treatment with worms. Treatment with worms is not an innovation, of course, but our method of breeding worms and curing the wounds was exclusive. That method was developed by one of our doctors Ashot Zohrabyan. We get worms of a new group through domedtic flies then put them on the wounds which have not been recovered for a long time. Worms are fed with decomposed, unfit tissues until the wound becomes clean. As soon as they get to the healthy tissues we stop the treatment. It is a licensed invention and has an international recognition. An important invention is also the method of using cadaverous powdered bone in demolishing bone defects introduced by Professor Yuri Poghosyan. That method was very efficient especially at the war period when defects caused by firearm injuries occurred very often.

_What bases of cooperation are there with foreign partners?

The direction of external relations has also developed greatly. Cooperation has been established almost with every European country, the USA and Russia. We have used our external relations to prepare good personnel. I would like to mention particularly the cooperation with German which initially had a very good base. The first German Colonel, who had come to Armenia, was Colonel Bandenkov. After his visit our relations extended and turned into friendship. We were invited to Germany. When I went to Germany, while I was in office, my first task was to study their educational sphere. We mastered the advantages of German military medicine quickly. Many of our personnel got education there. Almost all the best specialists of nowadays military-medical department have graduated German military-medical institutes.

­­ ­_What problems are there to be solved by the medical service of our army to provide future development?

_The issues of continuing the future technical changes are very important to me. Radical steps are necessary for future development, especially in the sphere of personnel. Medicine cannot be based on underdeveloped doctors. I have mentioned once more that Armenian army, as well as Armenian military medicine cannot be mediocre. This is not the country where you can go ahead with mediocrity and smother its failures. It is impossible. This is the nation which pays attention to everything. Do you know what concerns me in providing quality? I wonder if the replacing personnel can take the inheritance and go ahead. This is an important issue. The replacing personnel must always be ready to go ahead. In any case I put the issue this way.  Our military doctors must get out of organizational part and become practical doctors otherwise we will always have a lot of losses. The most important is the therapeutic issue. Our nation is small in number, we need to be replenished.

_What is the position of our military-medical service in the region?

_Both our army and military medicine have a leading position in the region. Moreover, it is not only our assessment. I have taken part in many international forums, including one held in NATO and I have always noticed that our foreign partners try to study our experience, our structural elements and efficiency. It is not accidental that American and German parties have always been present at the military exercises held by us. For example, in the autumn of 2012 we held big military trainings. There were representatives from 6 countries. We showed how we take the wounded from the front line to the medical facility in a way the wounded could survive, be treated and return to the line. They all accepted the perfection of the scheme and tried to introduce it in their country.

_What expectations are there from <<Armenian Association of Military Doctors>>?

_The creation of this kind of organization is welcomed. I think it will be a great support to the operating military medicine and the works with demobilized military doctors. The external relations of the association will give a chance to prepare good specialists. Its role is highlighted in the works with the public, as well. There are a lot of things to do. In military medicine not everything goes fluently. Every day is a scenario for a military doctor which can take from him a life. Well, this kind of deep psychological situations can develop. It is not perceived correctly by society for many times. The task of the association will be to clarify it, to demonstrate the reality. As a result, the society will have a better picture of military medicine. As for me, the organization headed by Ruzanna Khachatryan will extend the society-army-military medicine contact as a mediator. It will also contribute to the development of relations between military and civil medical services.


Mkhitar Nazaryan