Embarking in new directions: primary health care in Armenia

Armenia’s Government Plan 2017–2022 has defined the course for structural reforms in services delivery to tackle noncommunicable diseases. These transformations include revising entitlements, improving the quality of care and clinical practice and strengthening primary care and hospital services overall.

In this context, a WHO rapid assessment mission visited Armenia on 3–7 July 2017. The expert team aimed to assess the overall directions of the planned and ongoing reforms but focused on primary health care to provide concrete advice on strengthening its interface with public health services, hospitals (including emergency medical services) and long-term care (specifically, palliative care).

The main challenges currently affecting the provision of health services in Armenia include the current narrow scope of work assigned to primary health care, the lack of population-based interventions, the large number of hospitals without clear specialization and the overuse of emergency medical services.

To further advance the reform agenda but also build the public’s trust in primary health care, investment is required to upgrade the competencies of the health workforce to diagnose, treat and manage noncommunicable diseases, reorganize hospitals according to the hub-and-spoke model and enhance the strategic contractual capacity of the public health authorities.