Strengthening the Armenian Health System with Diaspora

YEREVAN, Armenia – On July 3, 2019, the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Armenia (RA), in collaboration with the Turpanjian School of Public Health (SPH) of the American University of Armenia (AUA) and the Armenian Medical International Committee (AMIC), organized a panel discussion on the role of the diaspora in strengthening the Armenian health system. This was a pre-conference satellite event of the 5th International Medical Congress of Armenia.

In his opening remarks RA’s Chief Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs Zareh Sinanyan welcomed the participants and emphasized the importance of diaspora-homeland collaboration to “to invent, create, innovate, and solve problems together through collective brainpower and networks.”

Dr. Shant Shekherdimian, assistant professor of surgery at the University of California, Los Angeles, made a thought-provoking presentation on “Healthcare in Armenia: Role of the Diaspora, Then and Now” and suggested questions for discussion including “what can Armenia (the Ministry of Health and the Office of Diaspora Affairs) do to improve the effectiveness of diaspora contributions?”

The panel also included the Minister of Health Dr. Arsen Torosyan and the President of AMIC Dr. Vicken Sepilian. Minister Torosyan presented the current state of the Armenian health system and priority areas for long-term strategic development that can lead to sustainable advancement of the system. President Sepilian emphasized that “diaspora efforts can be streamlined to meet the needs and priorities that are put forth by the Ministry of Health” and highlighted the important role of the office of the Chief Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs in coordination of those efforts.

The panel then fielded questions and suggestions from the audience which included both diaspora and local health professionals. One of the tangible results of the event was the agreement between the Ministry of Health and the office of the Chief Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs to collaborate in developing an online platform for diaspora consolidation that calls attention to the Ministry of Health’s current and future priorities. This platform would help to coordinate homeland-Diaspora efforts and ensure the sustainability of outcomes.

The AUA Turpanjian School of Public Health works actively to improve population health and health services in Armenia and the region through interdisciplinary education and development of public health professionals to be leaders in public health, health services research and evaluation, and health care delivery and management.