The issues of ensuring the rights of
persons with disabilities have been at the center of the Human Rights
Defender’s attention since the first day of the State of Emergency.
From March 16 to June 24, persons with
disabilities addressed 153 complaints on issues related to novel coronavirus
(COVID-19) infection, while 74 of them were calls received by 116 hotline of
the Human Rights Defender’s Office.
Apart from processing complaints, the
Defender’s Office carries out monitoring.
The discussion of complaints on these
issues, as well as the results of the monitoring, show that during the State of
Emergency, due to COVID-19 pandemic, the state of protection of persons with
become more sensitive, while the issues on the realization of their rights has
become hard and problematic.
The current obstacles in providing
medicines free of charge and on favorable terms to the persons with disabilities by the state are presented below,
while other issues will be addressed in other statements of the Human Rights
1. The examination of the complaints
addressed to the Human Rights Defender with regard to the issue of receiving
medicines shows that persons with disabilities encounter difficulties due to
systemic issues. For example, according to one of the complaints, the medicine
that had been prescribed by a family doctor to a citizen with disability who
was bedridden, was changed by other hospital and, according to the latter, more
effective medicine was prescribed.
The citizen applied to the Ministry of
Health and was assured of the possibility of receiving the medicine free of
charge. After receiving this information, the person applied to the Regional
Administration and was assured that the polyclinic will contact him on the
issue of the medicine. Nevertheless, the citizen failed to receive the medicine
from the policlinic due to a number of justifications: in one case, he was told
that the doctor was on vacation due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, while in
the second case it was provided that the medicine couldn’t be obtained because
of the public procurement procedure. In third case, it was reasoned that the
medicine was prescribed by a doctor of another medical institution, whereas the
medicine could be provided free of charge only based on the prescription of a
doctor of their policlinic. As a result, the person with disability was unable
to receive the medicine prescribed by the doctor.
The issue was resolved by the
interference of the Unit for Protection of the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities of the Defender’s Office.
Persons with disabilities encounter
difficulties while receiving medicine because the medical institutions are
provided with incorrect or unreliable information on the current Armenian
legislation that is intended for both the citizens and the medical personnel. As
a result, persons with disabilities are unable to receive their medicine, while
the medical personnel find themselves in a difficult position. For example, one
of the complaints revealed that the person with disability had applied to
medical institution for receiving the free of charge medicine, but was deprived
of the opportunity of receiving that medicine due to incorrect information
provided by the institution. This issue was resolved at the support of the Unit
for Protection of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of the Defender’s
3. The obstacles are also linked to the
following: the medical personnel within the system of medical services are not
always accessible for persons with disabilities. One of the frequently provided
reasons states that the transfer to another institution or the lack of shifts
results in the insufficient number of the medical personnel.
4. The Human Rights Defender finds it
necessary to record that the citizen, especially with disability is not obliged
to bear the burden of difficulties in realizing his/her rights because the
state fails to organize the procedures for ensuring those rights and freedoms
The excuses of the state for the delays
in providing medicines free of charge and on favorable terms to the persons
with disabilities, incomplete awareness, or other difficulties are
impermissible: this derives from the positive obligation of the state towards the
person with disability and towards a person generally.
It should be noted that, apart from other rights, these issues
primarily violate the right to healthcare of a person, guaranteed by the
Constitution of our country.
The state should organize these
processes by providing favorable solutions within the shortest possible time,
while the state oversight over these procedures should be effective. The Human
Rights Defender considers that the continuous raise of the salaries and social
guarantees for medical personnel is one of the main directions for addressing
the mentioned issues.
The Office of the Human Rights Defender
responds to each individual complaint by cooperating with the competent state
authority or medical institution, as well as cooperates with the NGOs in the
field if necessary. This approach gives an opportunity to effectively assist a particular
person with disability with regard to the issues of receiving medicine free of
charge and on favorable terms, as well as to assist the state in addressing the
issues from a systemic point of view.
On a systemic level, the Defender
carries out awareness-raising activities with regard to the mentioned issues,
submits legislative proposals, etc.
The Human Rights Defender specifically
records that the presented issues are of a systemic nature, and have been
repeatedly raised by the Defender in the past. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19)
infection has merely deepened some of the issues, thus making the need for
addressing them more urgent.