Dinar Musayeva, an intensive care unit (ICU) doctor practicing in Turkey, returned home to Azerbaijan in early April to help her country prepare to fight the pandemic.  She was one of 19 Azerbaijani doctors working in Turkey recruited to participate in the REACT-C19 project, a collaboration between local health authorities, the World Health Organization, and international donors to improve Azerbaijan’s hospital preparedness for the pandemic.  Dinar and her fellow doctors were divided into four teams – blue, red, green and white – corresponding to each of the colors of the Azerbaijani flag.  Each team was sent to different parts of the country to train local medical personnel in the international standard procedures for triage and treatment of patients and use of protective equipment. 

Dinar was part of the red team, assigned to work at the newly opened Central Hospital (CH) of Goranboy, in western Azerbaijan. The hospital had a 12-bed ICU with state-of-the art equipment, but they had lots of work to do to become fully operational.

“When we looked at the hospital on the very first day, it was new and sparkling. However, everything was scattered. There was no order. The equipment was not in place, and they were not fully operational.  We knew that there could be a big need for ICU beds soon, and we needed to create an action plan,” recalls Dinara. 

Dinar and her colleagues worked with the local doctor and teams of nurses from the intensive care unit to agree upon and execute a plan to ready the ICU for patients. They all worked for several hours straight reorganizing the equipment, devices and beds and testing all the systems for functionality. Their efforts came just in time. As they worked, the number of critical COVID-19 patients in neighboring Ganja was steadily increasing. 

“On that same night, two patients in critical condition came to the Ganja Abbas Sehhet hospital,” Dinar recounts. “The decision was to admit them urgently to an intensive care unit, but there was no intensive care unit at that hospital and their transfer to Baku was risky. The only intensive care unit in the area was at the Goranboy Hospital – which we had prepared that same day. It was as if we knew we were going to need it!”As the patients were being transferred, Dinar and her colleagues nervously wondered if the brand new ICU would be ready to treat the patients successfully. The patients arrived and were admitted to the Goranboy ICU where they were successfully stabilized and began treatment. 

“The next morning, we were happy and proud to see the two patients doing well and in stable conditions. We were happy to see that the local doctors and nurses were also proud and grateful. Now there is an intensive care unit in Goranboy Hospital and we are happy and proud to have contributed to the establishment of this unit,” says Dinar.

Although the REACT-C19 project ended after three months, Dinar and some of her fellow consultant doctors decided to stay and continue to contribute to Azerbaijan’s COVID-19 response.  Their efforts have helped keep Azerbaijani health care workers safe and prepare them to help thousands of Azerbaijanis to recover from COVID-19.  

USAID was one of the funders of the REACT-C19 project in Azerbaijan. For more information about the project, please visit the project website -

In total, the United States government has provided over $5 million to help Azerbaijan manage the health and economic effects of COVID-19.  Globally, the U.S. has provided $20.5 billion in assistance to fight the pandemic. 

Dinar Musayeva