Speech of the President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the opening ceremony of the Central Clinical Hospital of the Ministry of Health - December 22, 2000

Our distinguished guests, friends, arrived in Azerbaijan from the Republic of Turkey!

Dear Minister of State!

Dear Minister!

Our dear friends!

Ladies and gentlemen!

Today, in the last days of the 20th century, we can say with pride that constructive and creative work is carried out in the independent Azerbaijan year by year, and it serves to the Azerbaijani citizens today and will serve in future. Perhaps on the one hand today's event may seem ordinary, but on the other it is an unusual event.

At a time when more than 70 years in the 20th century Azerbaijan was a part of the Soviet Union, health care in our country developed with great speed.  Many doctors, health workers were educated. Several generations of prominent Azerbaijani scientists, professors in the field of medicine have worked and are working now in our country.

Azerbaijan Medical University, the 70th anniversary of which we have recently celebrated, has made a great contribution to our country with a sufficient number of medical personnel. To meet the needs of medical care numerous hospitals, outpatient clinics, research, medical institutions and other similar enterprises were created in our country. They serve to the Azerbaijani people today. It can never be denied -the work done in those years deserves high praise, and from a historical point of view so much work had never been done in our country in a short time.

Reviewing  the history you can see that at the beginning of the century, there were fewer physicians in Azerbaijan. And even then, they were individuals who had been educated in Russia or in European countries. I even remember in the early years when I lived in Nakhchivan, and throughout the city, and not only in the city - across the autonomous republic, there were only 4-5 doctors. I'm talking about 1930. Therefore, the doctors were very necessary. I take as an example this region of Azerbaijan, as I saw it all with my own eyes, felt in my own life. However, in some regions of Azerbaijan there was not even that.

Of course, at the beginning of the century there were  some health institutions in Baku. However, they could not meet the needs of the population. Therefore, the accelerated pace of work in health care carried out in Azerbaijan beginning from 1920's has created a powerful material and technical base of health service, a very strong human resource capacity and a large group of high-level scientists in Azerbaijan.

This information concerns the recent history of Azerbaijan. If today we have forgotten all this, it meant that we have forgotten our history. But history must never be forgotten. Each subsequent day is a continuation of our past days, years.

After gaining the independence of Azerbaijan we faced with a number of financial difficulties. However, we faced not only with material difficulties - we began to build the economy, social life of Azerbaijan on the basis of a new economic system, adopted by the already tested and developed countries. Naturally it gave rise to many difficulties. Despite the large number of health facilities in Azerbaijan, i.e. hospitals, clinics and other health facilities services provided to people gradually decreased and were eventually low compared to developed countries due to lack of funds and objective difficulties. Naturally, we were concerned about this. Therefore, we decided to conduct large-scale reforms in the sphere of health, as in many spheres of our life. A program of reforms was drawn up. Now it is implemented. On the one hand it requires time, money, and on the other it is necessary to raise the current level of all in the Azerbaijani healthcare - health facilities, doctors working there, or nurses and others. This problem has always concerned and concerns us today in Azerbaijan.

In recent years, we began to observe that treatment of many diseases is not possible in Azerbaijan. Moreover, it is impossible not only to treat disease, but also to examine some diseases. Because the healthcare industry today is based on a scientific basis, based on lessons learned in the world, and yet based on scientific and technological progress in health. If 15, 20, 30 years ago, a doctor just used to put a pipe into the ear and identified whether a man was sick or not, or made diagnosis having only a limited analysis. Then during a short time in the field of health care in the world there appeared such new tools, devices that allow accuratly examine every part of the human body, its condition, and diagnosis for each patient.

I am not a doctor. However, it is clear not only to me but everybody that for the proper treatment of the patient the cause of the disease, diagnosis must be determined, and only then a treatment must be arranged. Nowadays treatment depends on two factors. Firstly for the treatment of this disease necessary medical devices, instruments should be used, and secondly - modern medications. Azerbaijan is far behind in this area. Therefore, it concerned us in recent years.

We were looking for ways. But finding them was difficult. Firstly, we needed means, secondly, experienced specialists and thirdly, a modern material and technical base. To do this, we deemed it necessary, first, to establish cooperation with the friendly, brotherly Republic of Turkey. Because we all know that particularly after the Second World War, the economy of the Republic of Turkey has developed rapidly and there have been substantial changes in social life. Health care, medical science has developed greatly as well. So after gaining the independence of Azerbaijan, after the border between the fraternal Azerbaijan and Turkey were opened, the majority of our citizens, found themselves in a serious or very serious condition, were sent to Turkey and have been treated in hospitals of this country.

Some people  travel to European countries, to the United States. However, they are few. Because further you travel, more money you spend. Our doctors are well aware that, for example, treatment of one patient in Europe, costs three times, and in the U.S.  5 times more expensive than in Turkey. All is paid in those countries, that is, no disease is treated free. Therefore, our cooperation with Turkey primarily arose on the basis of Turkish-Azerbaijani friendship, brotherhood, as we cooperate in all spheres. Secondly, Turkey is closer to us and all the possibilities in the field of medicine are at the global level in this country. Given all this, we were forced to make a decision.

I remember, we have repeatedly discussed this with my friend and a great friend of the Azerbaijani people, the 9th President of the Republic of Turkey Suleyman Demirel at our meetings in Azerbaijan and in Turkey. Then we decided to establish this hospital. To establish it, Azerbaijan had to raise funds, and the Republic of Turkey had to find a construction company that specializes in this area, a company which is engaged not only in construction but also in provision of  the hospital with modern technology. It was necessary to prepare highly skilled physicians and other medical personnel who know how to use this new modern equipment, instruments and tools. We decided to undertake such a complex event and began to implement it.

I must openly say that the most difficult thing was to find financial resources. As you know, Azerbaijan is in a difficult economic situation, we have a lot of problems. Our common needs, part of our industry not working as the result of the carried out reforms, the forced expulsion of people from more than 20 percent of our lands occupied as the result of the Armenian aggression, their living in the tents and their unemployment - all this requires funding from Azerbaijani government. Therefore, it was said that the hospital cost $ 30 million and to get it was not an easy issue. We had to "break our heads" over this issue. Perhaps in other areas we could not choose this path. However, in this area, we did it.

When we signed the world's first oil contract in 1994 -the "Contract of the Century" with major oil companies, they made their bonuses for this contract. In addition, in honor of the signing of this contract, all these companies together donated $ 5 million to the President of Azerbaijan provided that the President spends the money on health care. Then I thought what can we do with $ 5 million? Hospitals, ambulance can not be built, 2-3 devices can be bought with this money, so what to do? Therefore I have instructed our National Bank to keep the money.

These funds were in the bank since 1994. As you know, when money is invested in foreign banks, interest is added. I asked how much money there is in the account now? They said $ 6.36 million. I noted  that partially we have found the money to build the hospital. While, partially we took loan. And the loan was taken from the German company "Siemens". That is, to find these funds was not easy. Using all these possibilities, we collected $ 30 million. A tender was held and "Ahsel Holding" won the tender and started the construction.
Frankly speaking, I did not believe that it would be possible to implement it in a  short term. However, they promised to do. They gave the word and kept it.

Now we will probably see something in the hospital. However, we can not examine everything. I know that the equipment brought here, i.e. medical equipment, devices are of the world's highest level. This equipment provides treatment and performing operations on the patients in this medical facility.

Why was this hospital built? As you know, this building was built in the early 60s and has been used. Naturally, in accordance with the requirements of the time, this hospital was considered the best in Azerbaijan compared to others. But then part of the building collapsed, it was not used. The remaining  part also became dilapidated and collapsed. In short, this building remained unused. However, having seen all the places in our city, this company chose this place. They promised to restore it partly and construct the remaining part. People who built this building once behaved reasonably, as it is a beautiful place in the city. To see the marine landscape or panorama of Baku from the windows, of course, can cure patients. Therefore I was very concerned that the building which served  Azerbaijan at one time, now remained untapped.

The area adjacent to this building is also good for the rest of the patients. So, I think that all was set and chosen correctly. Now the building is ready, and we have come here with you to take part in the opening ceremony of the hospital. However, as I said, all the work done here is at a high level, both the construction and provision of hospital with medical devices. I have no doubt. A certain number of personnel have been prepared. But this is not enough.

Ali Insanov: Mr President personnel training is going on.

Heydar Aliyev: If you continue, it must be done quickly, yet it is not enough. Because if you give this beautiful building, equipped with high-level computers and medical devices, in the hands of the people who are not well trained, not intentionally, but simply because of ignorance- they won't ensure their effective operation. Today is the first day of the opening of the hospital. Effective work of the hospital is the main task of our Ministry of Health. And the cooperation here is a joint effort of the Ministry of Health of Azerbaijan and the Ministry of Health of Turkey. Therefore, your job is not over.

Osman Durmush: Mr. President, we have brought experienced professionals.

Heydar Aliyev
Thank you very much for having brought experienced professionals. But we need more. Your case has not ended in this. Your work with Ali Insanov begins now. I hope that you will cope with this.

As far as I know, this hospital is very different from other medical institutions in Azerbaijan. That is, compliance of the hospital with international standards does not necessarily mean that everything here is arranged as in hospitals in the advanced countries. No, it is not. I was told that in one part of the building there will be located hospital, and in another, most of the work will be undertaken on the diagnosis. In other words, there will be provided outpatient services. The sick will be diagnosed correctly with existing devices, and after prescribtion they can be treated at home.

I must tell you that hospitals in Azerbaijan, not only in our country, but throughout the former Soviet Union, suffered from kind of "disease". It lays in the fact that within 5 days physicians used to court to the patients of hospital, ostensibly to examine them. Then they used to to treat the patients. Treatment lasted for a month. Another month, he remained in the hospital. And suddenly you discover that it is already two months the patient is in the hospital.

At the time our executives, the Azerbaijani officials used this hospital. I'd heard rumors that someone put here  his mother-in-law for treatment. Four  months she was here. She ate, drank, rested at the expense of the state. However, the required treatment could be made in a week. Do you understand? Evereybody here is perfectly aware of this, particularly the beneficiaries of the hospital know it well. Now all this has finished. Duration of treatment in this hospital should be as short as possible. And the main task of the medical establishment is in the correct diagnosis of the disease of citizens, providing them with the necessary medicines for treatment and consultation: it should clearly define whether there is a need for operation, hospital care or treatment at home on the basis of doctor’s consultation. You see, as I said, I am not a doctor, but I am a little bit familiar with this sphere.

I invested $ 30 million here. So I was interested, asked what will be here. If after 6 months you will again bring your mothers-in-law here, I will not allocate money for this hospital. Therefore, diagnostic center, that is, diagnostics department of hospital, outpatient department are  perhaps, even more important than the part where the sick are.

Thus, we have created an excellent medical facility. I am confident that we will effectively use this hospital. The establishment of this clinic and today's event, particularly the participation of our distinguished guests from the Republic of Turkey, once again shows that the Turkish-Azerbaijani friendship, brotherhood is effective. This friendship is growing, evolving and in this difficult period of Azerbaijan it will greatly assist the development of economy, social life, health of our country and other areas. That is why, I appreciate our today's meeting as a meeting of Turkish-Azerbaijani friendship and brotherhood. Since our distinguished guests - Minister of State and the other doctors, professors have come, since we are together, so we once again demonstrate the world our friendship and brotherhood. We demonstrate that the Turkish-Azerbaijani friendship and brotherhood develop and will develop day by day. As I have said, the Turkish-Azerbaijani friendship and fraternity - are eternal, irreversible and forever.

I thank all who participated in the creation of this wonderful hospital here, firstly Ahmed Bey, his experts and all the workers. I thank the Minister of Health, State Minister of Turkey. Once together with the distinguished Suleyman Demirel we made a decision on this matter, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey Dovlet Bahchaly also showed great interest and attention to Azerbaijan in this case. I express my gratitude to all. I wish the Turkish Republic peace, tranquility and success.

Distinguished President of the Republic of Turkey Ahmet Necdet Sezer made his first foreign visit to Azerbaijan after being elected the President. We highly appreciate it. At the same time, it demonstrates once again that the Turkish-Azerbaijani friendship is above the friendship with other countries.

I am always in touch with the President, and head of states  of the Turkish Republic, and with the distinguished Prime Minister Byulend Ecevit, and others. We keep in touch with each other. When the earthquake erupted, they immediately offered us their help.

As you know, when the earthquake broke out in Turkey, Azerbaijan also provided assistance. Then I specifically visited Turkey, visited the places hit by the earthquake, met with people, that is, now we have two different states, but we are united in all things.

I congratulate you on this occasion once again, I wish you health. I convey our respect, esteem and fraternal greetings to Turkish people. Once again I thank our friends, brothers, who come from Turkey. Thank you.

"Azerbaijan" newspaper, December 23, 2000.