Armenian Healthcare

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Armenian Eye Care Project update, as told by founder Dr Roger Ohanesian

See our website: describing what we have been doing for 25 years or 53 trips to Armenia.

After seeing the conditions of the major eye hospital, AECP provided equipment to bring Armenia up to the 20th century. After that was done, we brought 12 of their physicians for 1-yr specialty fellowships at major centers throughout the USA. When they returned, they were provided the special tools used in these specialty clinics. That way they could hit the ground with both feet running.

AECP then built the Mobile Eye Hospital (MEH) to tour the rural areas in the countryside where most of the poor lived. We did eye surgery, laser surgery and dispensed glasses to those who needed them and were designated by the PAROS list as living in poverty. Those in whom we found cataracts and who were of better means (Paros list 1-25) were referred to a private doctor in their locale for surgery. We do not want to enter into competition with the locals. That person may make the decision to have his/her surgery done in Yerevan but that is their choice. The MEH program is still effective and has had 600,000 examinations and more than 50,000 surgeries mostly cataracts and glaucoma.

At the request of the Minister of Health,(MOH) AECP has embarked upon building 5 Regional EyeCenters in locations designated by the Minister. So far we have built 3 EyeCenters of the 4 or 5 to be built by 2020. 
These will take the place of the MEH to provide more regular examination and treatment for those with chronic eye diseases, Glaucoma. Uveitis, Corneal Dystrophy, Retinal disorders, ocular and lid tumors.

We also have created an OR in a NICU which is in a Maternity Hospital......unlike any other in the world. In this way, a child born prematurely and having Retinopathy of Prematurity need not be transported by ambulance in an incubator to the eye hospital. Instead,he/she can be brought to the OR and the disease treated by endoscopic retinal surgery. This is one of only four centers in the world that performs this procedure.

Blindness has as a major etiology: Diabetes.
AECP's goal is to take a retinal photo of every Diabetic in the country, somewhere between 250-300 thousand Diabetics. Patients with diabetic retinopathy (DR) can be treated early to prevent blindness. Statistically, that would be 5000-8000 persons in the country.
Besides the social implications of blindness, there is a great economic reason for the government to prevent this disease.  Someone becoming blind is a huge cost to the nation in lost wages and taxes as well as the amount to care for a blind person.

Dr Ohanesian is presently selecting the best fair priced camera with plans to set it up in several sites to take photos.  After working out the bugs, AECP will bring in about 30 of them to examine every diabetic.

It should be an exciting program and very worthwhile to those with treatable DR, but also to become a model for all those other small countries who have large numbers of diabetics.

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