FAR kicked off its new Doctors for Artsakh program earlier this year with the dual objectives of filling the gap in medical personnel and revitalizing the healthcare system in Artsakh, which was all but shattered due to the 2020 Artsakh War.
Through their missions, which can stretch in duration anywhere from two weeks to six months, the rotating teams of doctors from Armenia serve the areas where they are most needed. Since April, 11 doctors from Armenia have worked in Artsakh’s Martuni, Martakert, and Askeran regions.
One of them is Dr. Narine Gevorgyan, a diabetes specialist from Gyumri, who immediately packed her bags back in April for a two-week stint when she learned that Martuni was without an endocrinologist. After witnessing the scarcity of resources at Martuni Medical Center, she decided to extend her contract through to the end of 2021.
“The first shock I experienced here was the large number of people who struggle with diabetes. People are also feeling psychological stress, exacerbated due to postwar trauma, so psychological and psychosocialproblems are acute among displaced people and those who have lost their siblings and loved ones,” said Dr. Gevorgyan. “I was distressed by my conversations with them, however, it never made me want to leave these people. Just the reverse; the situation urged me to stay and do my best.”
Now Dr. Gevorgyan serves 15 patients a day on average—more than she did in Gyumri. She’s adjusted to life in Artsakh, as has her son who attends daycare.
Dr. Gevorgyan urges doctors to never be afraid of working in postwar or conflict areas like Artsakh because it’s a doctor’s duty to serve people during both war and peace. “I think this program is a great chance for doctors to become more experienced, emotionally stronger, and it's a great possibility for the doctors of Artsakh and Armenia to network,” she said.
The FAR and the AAHPO-supported Doctors for Artsakh program is also made possible thanks to the Dr. Raffy Hovanessian Education Fund, the Nazarian Family Foundation, Armenian Medical Fund USA, Artsakh's Ministry of Health, and Progressive Medicine NGO.