By Taleen Babayan
TEANECK, N.J. — As a physician at the Ninotsminda Emergency Center, Dr. Lilit Ananikyan spends her days performing surgeries, checking in on her patients and treating the ill in this Armenian-populated district in the Javakhk region of southern Georgia. Serving in an under-staffed and under-resourced hospital, Ananikyan and her colleagues face a multitude of obstacles on a daily basis, including lack of heat during the harsh winter months, outdated ambulance cars and a scarcity of medical supplies. But perhaps the biggest challenge of all is the lack of updating one’s medical training. Many of the doctors, not only in Javakhk, but also in Nagorno Karabagh and rural Armenia, have not received additional training or courses to update their knowledge of medicine since the collapse of the Soviet Union some 20 years ago.
Through the support of the Armenian American Health Professional Organization’s (AAHPO) partnership with the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR), Ananikyan and other doctors in Javakhk and Nagorno Karabagh are overturning this trend by having the opportunity to participate in AAHPO’s Continuing Medical Education program.
“I could not believe such a humanitarian project could exist,” said Ananikyan, manager of the medical ambulatory department at the Ninotsminda Emergency Center. “It was a great opportunity to deepen my professional knowledge.”
The positive impact the Continuing Medical Education program has had on healthcare delivery in Armenia led to AAHPO dedicating its upcoming annual gala banquet to raise money to expand the program to Javakhk and Nagorno-Karabagh.
The theme of this year’s banquet is “Help Save Lives! Support the Continuing Medical Education of Doctors in Armenia.” It will take place on Saturday, October 15, at the Marriott at Glenpointe. The evening will also serve as an opportunity to honor Dr. Richard Babayan, Annette Choolfaian, RN, MPA, and Dr. Haikaz Grigorian for their various achievements and contributions in the medical field. The fall of the Soviet Union dealt a blow to the healthcare system in Armenia, and since the founding of the Armenian republic, no government regulations requiring doctors to keep their medical knowledge up-to-date have been implemented.