LOS ANGELES — The Armenian EyeCare Project (AECP) is commemorating its 30th anniversary by celebrating the milestone with a series of events, both in the U.S. and Armenia. The AECP’s 62nd Medical Mission to Armenia concluded in October, encompassing several momentous events that marked the organization’s 30-year-long dedication to advancing healthcare in Armenia.
This included the AECP’s 20th International Conference organized alongside Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) and Armenia’s Ministry of Health; visits to AECP facilities like its Mobile Eye Hospital and Regional Eye Centers; a special High Order that was appointed to AECP Founder Dr. Roger Ohanesian by the President of Armenia and much more.
Continuing the tradition that began back in 1992, AECP volunteer physicians traveled again this year to Armenia to hold master classes and share experiences with their Armenian peers; provide hands-on training and perform simulation exercises as well as real surgeries together. Over the years this invaluable opportunity has built the capacity, knowledge and expertise of Armenian ophthalmologists and developed long-lasting partnerships with physicians from the U.S. and Europe.
During this year’s trip, one volunteer physician, Dr. Mitra Gonzales, performed over 20 surgeries together with Armenian doctors including an orbital decompression procedure that was done in Armenia for the first time! A cutting-edge technique of scleral fixation of an artificial lens called Yamane technique was introduced by another volunteer physician, Dr. Matthew Wade, who together with local doctors, successfully performed the operation at the Malayan Ophthalmological Center in Yerevan. Doctors Sarkis Soukiasian and John Hovanesian worked on complicated cases together with Chief of the Corneal-Uveitis Clinic at the Malayan Ophthalmologic Center Dr. Anna Hovakimyan and her staff. This training of cutting-edge eye treatments ensures local doctors in Armenia are prepared to offer the best care possible to their country’s residents.
Top physicians from the U.S. and Europe also visited the John Ohannes Khachigian AECP Regional Eye Center in Gyumri to screen patients and to discuss complicated cases together with their Armenian peers. The regional eye care facilities AECP has been establishing across the country provide access to life-changing quality eye care services and allow for a timely detection of eye diseases, which helps to prevent complications and prevent blindness in the future.
Earlier this year, in partnership with French NGO Lumière Française, the AECP established the first Armenian-French Ophthalmic School within its Regional Eye Center in Gyumri with the goal of improving the skills and knowledge of local physicians through a series of training courses and hands-on practice. The joint program kicked off in April in Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city, becoming another strategic location that serves a large population that would otherwise be unable to access high-quality eye care services. Cooperation continued during the medical mission as well, as Dr. Marylin Nodarian visited Gyumri to see patients and train the staff, continuing to work in Gyumri for several days after the conference concluded.