Abstract – Identifying the gaps: Armenian health care legislation and human rights in patient care protections

Violeta Zopunyan, Suren Krmoya, Ryan Quinn

Health and Human Rights 2013, 15/2


Background: Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Republic of Armenia has undergone an extensive legislative overhaul. Although a number of developments have aimed to improve the quality and accessibility of Armenia’s health care system, a host of factors has prevented the country from fully introducing measures to ensure respect for human rights in patient care. In particular, inadequate health care financing continues to oblige patients to make both formal and informal payments to obtain basic medical care and services. More generally, a lack of oversight and monitoring mechanisms has obstructed the implementation of Armenia’s commitments to human rights in several international agreements.

Methods/Objectives: Within the framework of a broader project on promoting human rights in patient care, research was carried out to examine Armenia’s health care legislation with the aim of identifying gaps in comparison with international and regional standards. This research was designed using the 14 rights enshrined in the European Charter on Patient Rights as guiding principles, along with domestic legal acts relevant to the rights of health care providers.

Findings: The gaps analysis revealed numerous problems with Armenian legislation governing the relationships between stakeholders in health care service delivery. It also identified several practical inconsistencies with the international legal instruments ratified by the Armenian government. These legislative shortcomings are illustrated by highlighting key health-related rights violations experienced by patients and their health care providers, and by indicating opportunities for improved rights protections. A full list of human rights relevant to patient care and recommendations for promoting them in the Armenian context is provided in Tables 1 and 2.

Discussion: A number of initiatives must be undertaken in order to promote the full spectrum of human rights in patient care in Armenia. This section highlights certain recommendations flowing from the findings of the gap analysis, including further work needed to make pain relief medication more accessible to patients with chronic or terminal illness. New initiatives are also suggested, such as the establishment of an independent body of medical professionals and ethicists mandated to resolve disputes between patients and providers, and other efforts intended to ensure that the rights of patients and providers alike are upheld and respected.