Left to right: Sevan Sherikian, Ed.D.; Vicken Sepilian, MD; Shant Shekherdimian, MD; Alina Dorian, Ph.D.; Arman Voskerchyan, MD; Yelena Abovyan. Absent from photo: Salpy Akaragian, Ph.D., RN

Diaspora and Healthcare Professionals Unite at UCLA to Address Armenia’s Health Challenges.

Representatives from Armenian Diaspora organizations and healthcare professionals convened at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) for the Armenia-Diaspora Healthcare Summit 2024: Aligning for Sustainable Impact. The Armenian Medical International Committee (AMIC), the HENAR Foundation, and UCLA Operation Armenia organized the day-long summit.

The summit’s featured insightful presentations, panel discussions, and facilitated group discussions, focusing on innovative solutions to address key challenges and charting a purposeful path forward for health and wellness in Armenia.

Armenia’s Minister of Health, Hon. Anahit Avanesyan, delivered the keynote address, outlining the ministry’s priorities and strategic direction. Minister Avanesyan emphasized the need for improved communication, leadership, and sustainability mechanisms, stating, “We have the content, the strategies, and the project plans, but we need to improve communication, leadership, and sustainability mechanisms. It’s vital we build trust through institutions to effectively unite the efforts of all stakeholders.”

“It was an honor to host and welcome the Minister of Health and our diaspora colleagues who are all dedicated to improving Armenia’s healthcare system,” stated Alina Dorian, Ph.D., Co-Director of UCLA Operation Armenia.

Salpy Akaragian, Ph.D., RN, NPD-BC, is well acquainted with the current healthcare system. As President and Founder of the Armenian American Nurses Association and Armenian International Medical Fund (AIM Fund), she has facilitated medical missions to Armenia for over thirty years. In addition, she works with the country’s healthcare community and government to enhance the healthcare system and recommend policy changes.

“Collaboration is one of the key challenges,” she noted. The summit increased awareness to connect and collaborate with other leaders to achieve common goals or objectives. It enhances productivity and creates synergy.”

Breakout sessions identified key barriers, including gaps in healthcare education, a lack of donor transparency, insufficient collaboration, and government regulations hindering progress. Participants developed specific recommendations, such as adopting education standards, establishing impact measurement, joining AMIC for alignment, and advocating for regulatory reform.

Summit participants with Consul General of the Republic of Armenia in Los Angeles Dr. Karen Israyelyan

Kicking off the summit, the Consulate General of the Republic of Armenia in Los Angeles hosted a reception on Friday evening. Dr. Karen Israyelyan, Consul General of Armenia in Los Angeles, welcomed healthcare organizations and summit participants, fostering a welcoming environment for collaboration and networking.

“The summit created an opportunity to have an open, honest, and transparent conversation to create even more sustainable and effective means of strengthening the healthcare system in the country,” stressed Shant Shekherdimian, MD, Co-Director of UCLA Operation Armenia.

AMIC President Vicken Sepilian, MD, FACOG, echoed Dr. Shekherdimian’s sentiment. “The Diaspora’s role is critical for strengthening Armenia’s healthcare system,” he stated. “This summit allowed us to unite and align our approach to achieve sustainable impact moving forward.”


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