By Gulnaz Isabekova, PhD student at Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen
I have conducted field work in Kyrgyzstan and Armenia to collect empirical data for my dissertation, which aims to analyze the impact of interactions between development organizations and state officials on sustainability of tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS programs in these countries.
The trip to Kyrgyzstan (in the summer of 2016) was very productive, with a number of interviews collected from state officials and development organizations. The holiday season was approaching, so I tried to interview the stakeholders within a short period of time. I participated in a mid-term review of the National Health Care Program ‘Den Sooluk’ (22-24 June 2016). The mid-term review was organized by the Ministry of Health to gather development partners, government officials, and mandatory health insurance fund and oblast coordinators. This platform was extremely useful for meeting relevant stakeholders and understanding the national strategy.
The following trip to Armenia (fall 2016) was equally insightful. The political situation in the country during the visit was very dynamic. Six ministers had changed positions, which complicated the data collection process. However, the required information was nevertheless gathered. A research assistant, who was hired within the project framework, was very helpful for outreach to the state officials and donors in Armenia. My fluency in Russian was an asset for the interviews conducted in both countries. Knowledge of Kyrgyz helped when approaching stakeholders in Kyrgyzstan, whereas the research assistant helped by organizing interviews and translating the letters into Armenian.
The results from the gathered empirical data will be reflected in the research analysis. However, one issue at this stage complicated data collection process. Neither country has a unified database or source of information on donor activities. Therefore, it is difficult to estimate the actual impact of donor activities in the healthcare systems. A data collection initiative started in Kyrgyzstan in 2016, but there is no similar activity in Armenia. The lack of data on development programs in both countries was surprising, given the extensive donor activities in both since the early 1990s. Therefore, further data collection work aim at approaching the donors individually to acquire all of the relevant information on tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS efforts.