Our mission in Azerbaijan was completed in three phases, starting in 2005, continued in 2006 and finished in 2009.
Azerbaijan was among the countries that face the issue of increased spreading of tuberculosis. Despite some efforts being made in the capital, the state of health facilities in the region did not allow for the control of the disease, which is in any case demanding in terms of laboratory control and diagnosis. Even worse, the district’s human resources lacked the expertise to deal with the growing threat of drug-resistant tuberculosis, which was a result of inadequate and/or inappropriate treatment.
The project site was Seki in Northern Azerbaijan with a population of 60,000 in the foothills of the Caucasus. The city’s hospital had a special pulmonary department for tuberculosis, a point of reference for the entire mountainous region of the Caucasus (it covers a population of 150-180,000 inhabitants).
The area had about 10,000 refugees and internally displaced people. In total, the entire population of the region (250,000 inhabitants) benefited from the program, which had the Pulmonary Center as a reference center.
The objectives of the program were the following:
- Control of the tuberculosis epidemic in the region
- Reduction of cases by reducing the number of carriers
- Control of particularly dangerous resistant forms of tuberculosis and prevention of their spread
- Upgrading the special health structures of the region
The main interventions of the 2005 program were:
- The improvement of patients’ hospitalization conditions.
- The improvement and renovation of the Seki hospital building.
The Pulmonary Clinic of the Seki Hospital consisted of a two-story building which, due to its age, was unable to meet the needs of patients. In particular, the following interventions took place through the program:
- Building painting (interior): 2,605 sq.m.
- Toilet repair: approximately 10 sq.m.
- Repair of floors: approximately 400 sq.m.
- Replacement of doors
- Replacement of windows
- Electrical repair
- Repair of the heating system
- Installation of material capable of disinfecting the septic chambers of patients and laboratories
- Repair of the hydraulic system and sanitary ware
- Various other construction works to improve the building
- Provision of basic hotel equipment to cover the needs of the Hospital (mattresses, tables, chairs).
- Provision of basic diagnostic and monitoring equipment.
- Supporting the nursing staff to monitor the course of outpatients under treatment and identify new cases of tuberculosis.
Τhe 2006 program included:
- The monitoring and control of patients outside the Tuberculosis Center to help those who did not have easy access to the health system and lived in the most remote areas and villages of Seki, Gabala, Oguz and Ismaili.
- The support of the nursing staff to monitor the progress of patients who were under treatment.
- The identification of new cases of tuberculosis.
Our actions in the aforementioned areas were carried out in collaboration with and the support of the International Red Cross.
Objectives of the program and actions carried out during its implementation:
- During the previous program, an attempt was made to identify TB cases that were not able to receive full treatment.
- The team of nursing staff was reactivated, and they included a larger category of patients in the TB treatment protocol.
- Continuation of the treatment and inclusion of all suspected cases, which were still under investigation or treatment.
- Continuation and completion of treatment in 120 families who had not had the opportunity to be followed up by the pulmonology center.
- Upgrading the Hospital’s diagnostic capacity, through the provision of a portable x-ray machine, as well as monitoring of treatment.
The 2009 program involved:
- Supporting the nursing staff to monitor the course of treated outpatients and identifying new cases of tuberculosis.
- Dispatching of a special medical team for the control and scientific monitoring of the Program’s actions. The recording and evaluation of the results as well as the planning of the treatment were done in collaboration with the Western Greece section of the Hellenic Pulmonology Society.
- Administrative support and publicity actions for the Program.
In this context, an information day was organized to present the data, objectives and results of the program. At the same time, an informative event about tuberculosis took place in the local community.
During the program the following tasks were carried out:
- Regular visits to the villages, recording and monitoring of the cases that were under anti-tuberculosis treatment.
- Collection of samples from new patients, as well as those under treatment, to determine the resistance of Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains against antituberculosis drugs.
- Transport and control of the samples to the Patras laboratory.
The project implemented in Serbia involved the development of a wireless medical data transfer system for better coordination and control of emergencies in the southern Serbian region.
It took place in 2009 and ended in 2012, in the Republic of Serbia, specifically in Southern Serbia, in the city of Nis, which covers the entire Southern Serbia as a reference health center, directly serving a population of 350,000 people living in the Nis region, and indirectly more than 650,000 population in the wider area.
A pilot wireless telemedicine system was created for emergency response and for the coordination of large-scale disasters and accidents, within a 100 km radius around the hospital unit of the city of Nis in southern Serbia and especially on the vertical road axis towards central Europe.
The program carried out:
- Staff training in handling the new equipment.
- Training of medical staff in emergency medicine and in crisis and disaster management.
The program was implemented by the Automation and Robotics laboratory, the Wired Communication Laboratory at the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering of the University of Patras, with the support of Medical Intervention and particularly its members who were specialized in crisis management and were also trainers at Greek National Emergency Response System (EKAV).
The program involved carrying out endoscopy examinations at the Agioi Saranda hospital. During 2005 and after consultation with the Ministry of Health of Albania, members from our team in Patras, in collaboration with the gastroenterology department of the University Hospital of Rio, visited the hospital of Agioi Saranda in Albania at regular intervals.
They performed endoscopies, due to the lack of trained local medical personnel. This program continued until the medical and nursing staff of the Agioi Saranda hospital were adequately trained.
In the first half of 2005, three doctors from the hospital of Agioi Saranda were invited by our team in Patras and attended medical conferences.