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.”


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

Congratulations to Anahit Avanesyan

Anahit AvanesyanCongratulations to Anahit Avanesyan for being the first woman ever appointed to the position of Minister of Healthcare of Armenia by President Armen Sarkissian. Her previous positions include serving as Deputy Minister of Health since May 2018, and as First Deputy Minister since May 2020.


Feasibility and integration of an intensive emergency pediatric care curriculum in Armenia

Published by Aline Baghdassarian, Al M. Best, Anushavan Virabyan, Claire Alexanian, Shant Shekherdimian, Sally A. Santen & Hambartzum Simonyan | International Journal of Emergency Medicine

Emergency pediatric care curriculum (EPCC) was developed to address the need for pediatric rapid assessment and resuscitation skills among out-of-hospital emergency providers in Armenia. This study was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of EPCC in increasing physicians’ knowledge when instruction transitioned to local instructors. We hypothesize that (1) EPCC will have a positive impact on post-test knowledge, (2) this effect will be maintained when local trainers teach the course, and (3) curriculum will satisfy participants.

This is a quasi-experimental, pre-test/post-test study over a 4-year period from October 2014‑November 2017. Train-the-trainer model was used. Primary outcomes are immediate knowledge acquisition each year and comparison of knowledge acquisition between two cohorts based on North American vs local instructors. Descriptive statistics was used to summarize results. Pre-post change and differences across years were analyzed using repeated measures mixed models.

Test scores improved from pretest mean of 51% (95% CI 49.6 to 53.0%) to post-test mean of 78% (95% CI 77.0 to 79.6%, p < 0.001). Average increase from pre- to post-test each year was 27% (95% CI 25.3 to 28.7%). Improvement was sustained when local instructors taught the course (p = 0.74). There was no difference in improvement when experience in critical care, EMS, and other specialties were compared (p = 0.23). Participants reported satisfaction and wanted the course repeated. In 2017, EPCC was integrated within the Emergency Medicine residency program in Armenia.

This program was effective at impacting immediate knowledge as well as participant satisfaction and intentions to change practice. This knowledge acquisition and reported satisfaction remained constant even when the instruction was transitioned to the local instructors after 2 years. Through a partnership between the USA and Armenia, we provided OH-EPs in Armenia with an intensive educational experience to attain knowledge and skills necessary to manage acutely ill or injured children in the out-of-hospital setting.

EPCC resulted in significant improvement in knowledge and was well received by participants. This is a viable and sustainable model to train providers who have otherwise not had formal education in this field.

Best Practices

Best PracticesInfectious disease specialist Dr. Tsoline Kojaoghlanian is a case study in giving back to the community.

When COVID-19 began its inexorable spread across the United States, with mass anxiety and confusion rising with
every uptick in what came to be known as “the Curve,” Armenian health professionals and communities across the country had an inside edge: the eloquent and compelling Dr. Tsoline Kojaoghlanian. Despite an increasingly overwhelming professional reality in front of her, one that comes once a century, Dr. Kojaoghlanian felt an urgent call to service, determined to arm her own community with relevant and practical information.

From that point on, this persuasive dynamo, who appears week after week on household Zoom screens and Facebook pages across the Internet, is prepared to take questions, explain the science, vet the data, and give no-nonsense advice as to how families can stay safe and healthy. As a longstanding board member of the Armenian-American Health Professionals Organization (AAHPO) with a mission to promote and advance the science and art of healing and to educate and improve the health of the Armenian community, Dr. Kojaoghlanian felt an urgent call to service as soon as the news of the virus began circulating through the medical community in early 2020.

“I contacted key members of the AAHPO board. Speaking as an infectious disease specialist, I explained that this virus needed to be taken extremely seriously and urgently.”


Examining Continuing Medical Education In Armenia

AAHPO member Gevorg Yaghjyan MD, PHD, recently co-authored an informative article published in the Journal of European CME, examining medical education and continuing professional development in Armenia, from past to present.

The article describes the phases of evolution of continuing medical education chronologically and details the legislative and regulatory framework surrounding each stage of development.