The State of Armenia’s Health Care 25 Years after Independence: Collaboration with Diaspora

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Hackensack, New Jersey, USA: The ARF Dro Gomideh, the Armenian Medical Fund (AMF), the American Armenian Health Professionals Organization (AAHPO) and Dr. Greg Simonian from Hackensack University Medical Center organized a joint event in New Jersey, at Hackensack University Medical Center on February 3, 2017. Around 100 health professionals from New York and New Jersey areas attended the panel discussion The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: The State of Armenia’s Health Care 25 Years after Independence.

Dr. Kim Hekimian, Assistant Professor, Institute of Human Nutrition, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, was the moderator of the Panel Discussion and she emphasized “Armenia has made much progress, but we need to understand how the Diaspora can coordinate their efforts in such a way to go to the next level and make our contribution to Armenia more cost-effective and impactful on a population level.” She also emphasized the importance of taping on the existing expertise and infrastructure in Armenia and its combination with Diaspora contribution, including funding.

Dr. Varduhi Petrosyan, the Dean of Gerald and Patricia Turpanjian School of Public, was invited to present on the health system reforms, important public health issues, and Tuberculosis Control in Armenia. Dr. Petrosyan started her presentation highlighting AUA’s and its Turpanjian School of Public Health’s major accomplishments, then presented an overview of health system reforms in the last 25 years, and presented about AMF-sponsored Tuberculosis (TB) Control related projects and concluded with information about other important projects of Turpanjian School of Public Health.

The other speakers were Lucy Tovmasian, MD, OB-GYN, Holy Name Medical Center, Englewood NJ; John P. Bilezikian, MD, Silberberg Professor of Medicine, Vice Chair, International Education and Research, Division of Endocrinology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University; and Shant Shekherdimian, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Surgery, University of California, Los Angeles. A lively discussion session followed the presentations. Dr. Shekherdimian concluded the panel discussion emphasizing the importance of Diaspora investing in long-term sustainable projects that are based on needs assessments and evidence based practices, and are evaluated for fine tuning. He brought the example of AUA as one of the most successful diaspora initiated projects that developed a new sustainable institution in Armenia.

The Voice of Armenians TV network in New York covered the event:

Armenian Heritage Cruise, USA: The Armenian Cultural Association has been organizing the Armenian Heritage Cruise for 20 years. The Cruise on January 20-29, 2017, organized a Special Program for Health Care Professionals on Medical and Dental Health in Armenia and for the first time provided Continuous Medical Education (CME) credits (ACCME and CDE Accreditation) to the participating health professionals. The faculty members invited for this program were Varduhi Petrosyan, MS, PhD, Professor, AUA Turpanjian School of Public Health, Robert Bagramian MPH, DDS, PhD, Professor, University of Michigan and Lawrence Najarian, MD, President of AAHPO. Dr. John Bilezikian was the Chair and Dr. Raffy Hovanessian the Honorary Chair of the Program. Dr. Petrosyan made two presentations: the first one on the Health System of Armenia and Important Public Health Issues and the second one on Tuberculosis and Tobacco Control in Armenia. The audience asked many questions about public health issues in Armenia and the work of Turpanjian School of Public Health. The program was open not only to health professionals but anyone from the Armenian Heritage Cruise.

The AUA School of Public Health works actively to improve population health and health services in Armenia and the region through interdisciplinary education and development of public health professionals to be leaders in public health, health services research and evaluation, and health care delivery and management.