Fourth Annual 5K Run/Walk Raises Funds for Artsakh Healthcare

By Stephan S. Nigohosian

Editor’s note: This article was published in the Armenian Mirror Spectator on February 4, 2023.

LEONIA, N.J. —Overpeck County Park is a world away from Artsakh, but that distance became inconsequential last October when upwards of 100 people participated in the Armenian American Health Professionals Organization (AAHPO) Fourth Annual 5K Run/Walk event.

This year’s activity (the date is yet to be determined), which will be held to raise desperately needed funds to support healthcare and medical services for the Armenian population of Artsakh and Armenia, will be even more significant in light of the humanitarian crisis caused by Azerbaijan’s unlawful blockade of the Lachin Corridor. Armenian


Examples of this are the training of doctors in the rural areas of Artsakh in innovative approaches, methods, and technologies in medicine, as well as underwriting the cost of curating and sending medical equipment and medicine to the region.

“The continued growth of our 5K Run/Walk Event is a testament to the dedication and compassion of Armenian-Americans in NY, NJ and CT,” said AAHPO President Lawrence V. Najarian, MD. “The situation in Artsakh has been very difficult for quite some time now, but the most recent repercussions caused by the Azeri blockade has made our mission of providing assistance to our brethren in the region all the more critical.”


HPV Vaccine Prevents Six Types of Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, Human Papillomavirus (HPV) can cause six types of cancer. While there is no treatment for HPV, there is a vaccine that can prevent it.

“I recommend all children between the ages of 9 to 14 receive the HPV vaccine before they are sexually active,” advises AAHPO Vice President and pediatrician Garbis Baydar, MD. “There are medical studies which clearly show that the vaccine not only prevents sexually transmitted genital warts, but also prevents cervical cancer in females, penile cancer in males and oral and food pipe cancer in both sexes.”

The American Cancer Society asserts that the HPV vaccine can prevent more than 90% of HPV cancers, including most cervical cancers. Talk to your child’s doctor and visit to learn more.

Recall of EzriCare Eye Drops

If you have purchased eye drops sold under the brand names of EzriCare or Delsam Pharma Artificial Tears, immediately discontinue use of the eye drops. They have been recalled due to possible contamination linked to eye infection cases in 12 states, including New Jersey and New York.

“Fortunately, these brands have very small market share in our region,” noted AAHPO President and ophthalmologist Lawrence V. Najarian, MD.


Should You Be Smoking Marijuana to Treat Your Glaucoma?

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month. AAHPO President and ophthalmologist Lawrence V. Najarian, MD is sharing this article from the Glaucoma Research Foundation, which notes: “Although marijuana can lower eye pressure, please consider its side effects, short duration of action, and lack of evidence that its use alters the course of glaucoma.”

Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve, the cable that carries visual information from the eye to the brain. Damage to the optic nerve from glaucoma can result in vision loss and blindness. Treatments that lower the pressure in the eye both lower the risk of developing the optic nerve damage that defines glaucoma, and the risk of pre-existing damage getting worse.

Marijuana as a Treatment Alternative
One of the commonly discussed alternatives for the treatment of glaucoma is the smoking of marijuana, because smoking marijuana does lower the eye pressure. Less often appreciated is the fact that marijuana’s effect on eye pressure only lasts 3-4 hours, meaning that to lower the eye pressure around the clock it would have to be smoked 6-8 times a day.

Furthermore, marijuana’s mood-altering effects prevent the patient who is using it from driving, operating heavy machinery, and functioning at maximum mental capacity. Marijuana cigarettes also contain hundreds of compounds that damage the lungs, and the chronic, frequent use of marijuana can damage the brain.

Learn more from the Glaucoma Research Foundation

Protect Your Family from the Dangers of Radon

Did you know that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States after smoking?

What is Radon?
Radon is an odorless and invisible radioactive gas naturally released from rocks, soil, and water. In outdoor environments, radon levels are very low and generally not considered harmful.

Radon can get into homes or buildings through small cracks or holes and build up to higher levels. Over time, breathing in high radon levels can cause lung cancer.

The good news is that lung cancer from radon is preventable.

Click on the arrow below to watch video, or Learn more from the CD.

The AAHPO, Dr. Raffy Hovanessian Medical Education Program Trains 18 Artsakh Physicians Despite Many Challenges in 2022


Four AAHPO members were honored at the January 22 Winter Brunch for their leadership and service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Vice President Garbis Baydar, MD (far left) and President Lawrence V. Najarian, MD (far right) congratulate Board Member John P. Bilezikian, MD, Board Member Tsoline Kojaoghlanian, MD, and Member Mihran Seferian, MD. Board Member Kim Hekimian, PhD, also was honored but could not attend as she was traveling to Armenia. Watch for a full report on the Winter Brunch in our next newsletter.

From January 2022 through the end of December 2022, 18 Artsakh doctors representing various medical specialties participated in the AAHPO, Dr. Raffy Hovanessian Medical Education Program, according to the program’s Annual Report. Along with attending the month-long clinical training in Yerevan, the physicians participated in lectures held at the Republican Scientific Medical Library and had the opportunity to improve their computer literacy skills.

“The future for the AAHPO, Dr. Raffy Hovanessian Medical Education Program is bright,” asserted Hambardzum Simonyan, MD, the program director in Armenia. He added:

  • The knowledge and skills the physician-trainees gained during lectures and computer classes will enable them keep up with modern medical trends.
  • The AAHPO, Dr. Raffy Hovanessian Medical Education Program has been included in the 5-years strategy planning of the Artsakh Government as the primary source of continuing medical education training.
  • So far, 46 Artsakh doctors are on the waiting list for 2023.

During 2022, the program collaborated or supported several additional initiatives, including establishing a diabetes education program for medical professionals, training of Artsakh specialists in geriatrics, offering a workshop for orthopedic surgeons in Gyumri, and sending rehabilitation specialists to an important conference (see photos below).

Read entire 2022 Report

Seven endocrinologists recently took part in a week-long training to improve diabetes education of patients.

Orthopedic surgeons from Artsakh participating in a practical workshop during the Orthopedic school in Gyumri.

Specialists from Stepanakert Rehabilitation Center attended an important conference.

WMA Urges Immediate Action To End Humanitarian Crisis


Dr. Frank Ulrich Montgomery, Chair of the WMA Council, said: “Patients are at risk of dying because they cannot get their medicines and cannot get to hospital. We urge the Azerbaijan Government to ensure safe access through the Lachin corridor immediately to avoid this humanitarian crisis getting worse. This is a critical route for the delivery of vital food and medical supplies.”


Read the press release at

What to Expect from the New Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a rule that allows hearing aids to be available over-the-counter (OTC). This rule enables consumers who perceive themselves to have mild to moderate hearing loss to buy hearing aids from stores or online retailers without a medical exam or prescription.

This rule, which took effect October 17, is expected to make hearing aids more accessible to the public, but many questions remain unanswered: what does it mean to have perceived mild to moderate hearing loss; what can we expect from this new category of hearing aids; and how can audiologists and hearing specialists help even when there isn’t a need for a hearing exam to obtain these devices? Enrique Perez, MD, Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai, shares his thoughts on the FDA rule and the benefit OTC hearing aids can bring to consumers.

Who might benefit most from this new rule?
Older adults who have noticed they are struggling somewhat with hearing in their day-to-day activities would likely benefit the most. The rule applies to people age 18 and older with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss, which can be subjective to quantify without an exam. The OTC devices would likely be suitable for people without serious otologic (ear) disease, frequent discomfort in the ear, or ear infections.

What devices are covered under the rule?
The rule covers air conduction hearing aids, which mimic the way we naturally hear but deliver amplified sound to the inner ear. This is opposed to bone-anchored hearing aids, which require surgical implantation, or personal sound amplification products, which are not mean for impaired hearing but are intended for people with normal hearing to amplify sounds in certain situations.

It remains to be seen how OTC hearing aids will eventually be labeled, but it is important that the labels are comprehensive, to ensure that individuals are not misled. For example, an OTC label could point out that the product is different from a prescription hearing aid and that if you are not seeing a benefit, you should be evaluated by a specialist.

How might an audiologist help?
Hearing aids becoming available over the counter doesn’t necessarily mean there is no longer any need for an audiologist. As more people have access to hearing aids, audiologists might start to see a big
chunk of these people we might not ordinarily see in clinic.


Our Own Dr. Tsoline Kojaoghlanian Discusses the RSV Virus Surge, Its Warning Signs and Preventive Measures

Editor’s Note: This article/video appeared on NY1 “News All Day” on Nov. 3, 2022, quoting AAHPO Board Member and pediatric infectious disease specialist Tsoline Kojaoghlanian, MD.

Cases of Respiratory Syncytial Virus — known as RSV — are surging around the country.

In the past, RSV has been considered a common, seasonal respiratory infection. But this year it’s hitting harder and earlier.

With flu season underway, and COVID-19 still a challenge, some experts are calling it a ‘“triple-demic.” Hospitals and children’s wards are already being pushed to capacity.

Dr. Tsoline Kojaoghlanian is a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Maimonides Children’s Hospital in Brooklyn who joined “News All Day” for more insight into the disease.

Dr. Kojaoghlanian says some of the warning signs include labored or unusually fast breathing, poor eating and grunting or nasal flaring. To protect your family, the doctor recommends washing your hands, keeping sick family members away from infants, avoid crowded places, and keep kids away from smokers.

Dr. Kojaoghlanian told us that their pediatric intensive care unit is equipped with the right staffing is ready for the expected surge in sick children requiring intensive care. With that care, most babies do well.