Health Professionals’ Fundraiser Benefits EyeCare Project, Voskevan Clinic


By Florence Avakian

NEW YORK — It was at a world famous location, the New York Stock Exchange that the Armenian American Health Professionals Organization (AAHPO) of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut held a fundraiser on November 6. Two worthy and important projects were the recipients of the proceeds — AAHPO’s Voskevan Clinic in Armenia, and the Armenian EyeCare Project, which has already provided free eye care to 20 percent of Armenia’s poorest people.

The crowd of more than 150 which weaved in and out of America’s capitalistic center, was warmly welcomed by AAHPO Board Vice President Dr. Arthur Kubikian, standing on a platform high above the famous hall. Tireless AAHPO Board President Dr. Lawrence Najarian, in striking a “symbolic bell” rather than the stock exchange’s opening bell, declared that “we stand ready to help provide the basic human right to good health for our brothers and sisters.”

Giving just a few examples of the impact the donations make, he revealed that $1,000 buys insulin for 100 diabetics for one year in Armenia; $1,000 also services an entire Armenian village with a mobile dental office with two dentists and two staff for 30 days. In Voskevan, a village close to the Azeri border, he announced that a seven-room clinic will replace the decaying, bombed-out kindergarten currently used to provide medical and dental services to 4,000 poverty-stricken people.

In this country, he pointed out that in three New Jersey counties, in collaboration with the North Hudson Community Action Corporation, AAHPO has provided free medical care to any Armenian adult and child with no insurance and no means of payment. Donations have also been earmarked for AAHPO’s public education programs, including the Diabetes Awareness Day on November 22, in New Jersey, and the medical alerts on the AAHPO.org website.

Another recipient of the contributions is the tele-medicine initiative in collaboration with Armenia Fund USA, which uses the Internet “to collaborate with and train medical professionals in the most remote areas of Armenia,” Najarian noted.

A congratulatory message from Armenia’s Ambassador to the United Nations Garen Nazarian, and read by Deputy Permanent Representative Lilit Toutkhalian, related that “programs in Armenia and for Armenia are of special importance since improved and modern medical services in Armenia require a cohort of well-educated, dedicated professionals who can put Armenia on the map of the world’s advanced medical societies and contribute to the well-being of the Armenian people.”

Dr. Roger Ohanesian, the head of the EyeCare Project in Armenia, detailed the accomplishments of the program. “More than 50 ophthalmologists who have supported us have taught and performed surgeries in Armenia. In addition, Armenian doctors have been trained in the US on a yearlong fellowship. When they returned, we made sure they had all the needed equipment, and they established specialty clinics” he stated with obvious pride. “The goal was also to make the ophthalmology departments in Armenia self-sufficient.”

One of the greatest achievements of the Eye Care Project has been the Mobile Eye Hospital which is equipped with a full operating room, two examination rooms, and has made four rotations throughout Armenia, servicing almost 350,000 patients.

Twenty percent of Armenia’s population has been examined, Ohanesian announced proudly. “Now other Armenians have built eye clinics in regions outside Yerevan — in Gumri, Osterak, Garagunik, Karabagh, and are seeing patients in a similar model to what we have done. Now we don’t have to go to these areas. They are becoming self-sustaining,” Ohanesian related, adding, “the EyeCare Project has been so successful that other countries and the US send medical residents to Armenia for pathological training.”

During the evening, guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction was held under the direction of Dr. Aram Cazazian.

The volunteers whose work brought the event to a successful fruition included Doctors Armand Asarian, Garbis Baydar, Aram Cazazian, Knarig Khatchadurian, Tsoline Kojaoghlanian, Arthur Kubikian and Louiza Puskulian Kubikian. Also in the dedicated group were Suzy Davidkhanian, Kathy Feredjian, Saro Hartounian, Lucy Hayrabedian, Lory Karakashian, Nadine Koobatian, Judith Lee, Lori McCann, Christina Najarian and Magda Najarian.