MSF completes 'Management of STIs and Prevention of Their Spread' project

Armenia - After completing a two year project (March 2005- February 2007) in the Shirak region for the "Management of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and Prevention of their Spread", Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) announced today the closing of the project. In a closing ceremony in Giumri local, national partners , including health workers, NGO representatives and health authorities had the opportunity to share experiences gained during the implementation of the MSF projects in the region.

The project "Management of STIs and Prevention of Their Spread" aimed to increase the access and quality of STI care using updated guidelines, including; increasing the awareness of the population through indoor and outreach activities; counsellin; and training, as well as various events for improving the prevention of STIs.

The project also included support to the Blood Bank (BB), ensuring the safe blood transfusion for patients in the region, as well as treating HIV/AIDS patients, providing Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) services and Opportunistic Infection (OI) management.

"The MSF project that we had the opportunity to develop in the Shirak Region was well accepted by patients and our medical counterparts," stated Milan Gacic, Head of Mission in Armenia, Shirak region. "Noticeable achievements were made in all levels of the project and irreversible processes that will benefit the local population have started."

The project treated a total number of 3,699 patients in all the supported doctors' offices (Jan 2005 - Feb 2007), out of 4,566 primary visitors. All clients were offered counselling on condom use and risk reduction, as well as basic information about STIs and HIV/AIDS.

In addition, the project focused on; improving working conditions in the MSF facilities, located in the Red Cross Polyclinic; establishing new laboratory, venerological and gynaecological facilities located in the same part of the polyclinic; and enlarging the Information-Education-Communication (IEC) premises.

Inclusion criteria for Primary Health Care Centres (PHCCs) were set up and STI services expanded in five more health facilities during that period.

The gynaecological and venerological departments in the Skin Venerological Disease Hospital (SVDH), Artik polyclinic and Mother Child Centre (MCC), Maralik, Akhouryan and the second polyclinic were enrolled in the project. Training was conducted for health personnel on STI case management, post exposure prophylaxis, universal precautions, waste management, STI drugs, lab and medical material, and needed equipment was procured for all the supported offices.

In addition to this, five waste management zones were built in MSF supported polyclinics. Needed items were donated to the trained staff for the proper implementation of waste management.

"MSF did a really nice job for the population of the Shirak region," said Dr. Satenik Beybutian, Head of the Health Department in the Shirak Region, on the importance of MSF work in the region. "To provide anonymous, free of charge services to the people in need was really very relevant to a poor region like ours.

"All the components of the project were pertinent: supporting the cabinets in the polyclinics for providing STI services, VCT services (including testing), support of the BB, building waste zones.

"The country is only starting the implementation of the project related to waste management, but thanks to MSF we have waste zones already even in the regional polyclinics. It's really a pity that MSF is leaving, as we think we still need their support, but we can understand that probably there are countries that are more in need than ours. We will try to do our best to make sustainable the things MSF has started and was implementing in a very successful way."

While the specific project of MSF in the Shirak region is closing, other MSF sections are working in Armenia on projects that target populations affected by the spread of tuberculosis.