Armenia | Human Rights Defender reports on monitoring visit to “Dzorak” mental health care center

The Human Rights Defender has summed up the results of the monitoring visit of the “Dzorak” mental health care centre (hereinafter referred to as Centre) of the RA Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. They have been subjected to detailed analysis from the point of view of compliance with RA legislation and international standards. A large-scale document has been prepared that will be presented to the Centre’s Directorate, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Health, as well as to the General Prosecutor's Office with the necessary justification, objective evidence (photocopied documents, photographs, etc.) and concrete recommendations of work to be undertaken.

Some of the main violations and issues registered in the Centre are as follows:

  • breaches of procedure for the application of the isolation measure defined by the RA Minister of Health on persons with mental health problems, including in a form of a degrading treatment towards the person under care,
  • out of date products, including food items with a shelf-life of more than one year after the expiration date at the time of the visit,
  • expired medical drugs and medical items were found,
  • shortcomings in preventive medical care and services,
  • in cold weather conditions there is no adequate 24-hour heating,
  • the toilets in the Centre are not adapted to the needs of people,
  • the medical staff of the Centre is insufficient.

It is noteworthy that during the visit, the Human Rights Defender’s Office did not receive complaints about ill-treatment. Moreover, the caregivers point out a positive attitude toward individual employees, conditioned by their conscientiousness. The staff of the Human Rights Defender also recorded the conscientious work of certain employees. In addition, the Centre’s buildings as well as some room entrances have been adapted for people with mobility problems (availability of ramps have been recorded).

It is also encouraging that the Centre has a daytime care centre which provides caretakers with activities and psychological services. The problems recorded in the Centre show that the systemic issues in the Human Rights Defender's ad hoc public report on ensuring the rights of people with mental health problems in the psychiatric organizations remain unresolved.

Obviously, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs does not conduct sufficient control over the Centre.

Despite the conscientiousness of employees at the personal level, the majority of the revealed problems and reported violations, on the Defender’s assessment, are a result of disregarding or ignoring them by Ministry or the Centre’s administration. As a result, the rights of the caretakers in the Centre are being violated, leading to their degrading treatment, as well as the lack of adequate working conditions and sufficient social guarantees for the employees.

The Human Rights Defender will continue being consistent in addressing all the raised issues.

During the monitoring, the implemented work was based on a pre-elaborated and published guideline by professionals who have been trained in accordance with internationally-recognized standards and have received specific training. During the visits, both the violations and the positive developments were recorded in accordance with the principle of objectivity.

Some of the recorded problems have also been confirmed during the joint visit of the Human Rights Defender and Chairman of the NA Standing Committee on State and Legal Affairs, Chairman of the NA Standing Committee on Health and Social Affairs, as well as two deputies.

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Source: Human Rights Defender, Armenia


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