Armenian health minister comments on rumors of his alleged intention to resign

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YEREVAN, August 28. /ARKA/. Armenian Health Minister Arsen Torosyan commented Thursday on rumors of his imminent resignation, the conflict with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and the failure of the fight against the coronavirus.

Pashinyan signed a decision on August 25, in accordance with which Torosyan goes on vacation until September 18 inclusive. This decision was preceded by rumors due to the fact that the minister removed his personal and official pages from Facebook.

“I don’t even remember the last time I met with the prime minister, therefore, there could be no conflicts. Such publications have appeared for two years. I’m not even interested in why they appear, perhaps with the encouragement of individuals or because of global political motives not related to me,” Health Minister Arsen Torosyan said in an interview with the Radio Azatutyun.

Answering the question of whether he had a tough dialogue with the prime minister and how Pashinyan assesses the work of the health ministry in connection with the coronavirus, he noted that the assessment of work is not a one-time action, but a process that runs constantly, starting with public discussions at meetings and ending with tete-a-tete meetings.

“The last meeting with the prime minister took place more than two weeks ago. The last time I was at a government meeting, during which nothing of the kind was discussed. And globally, the fight against coronavirus is not only a matter for the ministry of health, but for the entire state. It’s always been the case – all departments carried out work in their own directions, and we – in our own way,” Torosyan said.

He noted that the percentage of people infected with coronavirus and, unfortunately, the deaths of citizens in Armenia shows that the healthcare system has done more than it could, especially given the funding and attention to it allocated over the past couple of decades.

In his words, in this context, the assessment of the work of the health system and the ministry cannot be other than “satisfactory” or “good”. He called the mobilization of the Armenian healthcare system unprecedented with 40,000 medical workers and more than 5,000 doctors who were engaged in treating coronavirus patients.

“There has never been such a mobilization of human resources, finance and equipment. All this was done very quickly and in a 24/7 mode, although now the pace has slowed down, as the situation has improved,” Torosyan said.

As for the accusations of the inappropriateness of spending on the fight against coronavirus, the minister noted that no one demanded a report from him, but all expenses are regularly published. Recently, the ministry of health published the costs as of August 1.

“I think that discussions on spending during the coronavirus period should take place in the context of whether we have funded the fight against coronavirus enough and whether we have left doctors unprotected or have patients left without medicines or equipment. The mobilization also required financial resources, which are provided in sufficient volume – the lion’s share was taken from the state budget, and the rest from partners,” he said.

The minister also answered the question about his leave on vacation, noting that it is a constitutional right not only for him, but also for his children and family.

“No one has the right to abuse the question of the expediency of my vacation. In addition, I will be in Armenia, always available, I will go to work on some days, since there is a WHO conference at which I have to speak and other remote meetings,” he said.

In recent days, passions ran high in social networks as it became known that the health minister’s official and personal pages in Facebook had been closed.

Some media outlets were quick to draw conclusions. They said that this is the first sign for Torosyan’s resignation as minister.

Rumors are also going around that Pashinyan is extremely dissatisfied with Torosyan’s work, in particular, in the context of the fight against COVID-19 and a conflict allegedly arose between them against this background.

Another possible reason for the resignation is the proceedings initiated against Torosyan in the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption on the fact of an illegal clash of situational interests.

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