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Syrian-Armenian Doctor Finds Peace in a Remote Region of Artsakh

After 22 years of а medical career in Qamishli, Syria, Syrian-Armenian Dr. Hayk Khacho, 49, decided to move to Artsakh in the beginning of 2016.

“When I made the final decision to return to Armenia, I contacted my relatives here, and they told me that there was a lack of doctors in Artsakh. So, I immediately headed to Ishkhanadzor, my new gorgeous and peaceful home,” said the doctor, now the sole family physician in Ishkhanadzor, and one who sees more than five patients each day from the four surrounding communities.

Dr. Khacho endured heartbreaking struggle before arriving in Artsakh. Born in Syria, he graduated from Yerevan’s State Medical University in 1994, and then returned to Qamishli. For more than 20 years, Hayk was the only family doctor in the district. However, the war in Syria cut his peaceful life short.

“When the war broke out in Syria, I could hardly work with patients,” recollected Dr. Khacho. “Qamishli is 30 kilometers away from the conflict zone, and the clinic was located in ISIS territory. I was twice kidnapped by terrorists. They told me to convert into Islam, otherwise I would be beheaded. It was a miracle that I was able to flee to a hiding place," he said. “I have three daughters and I didn’t want them to see the violence anymore, so we packed our things and came to Armenia.”

The past 1.5 years in Ishkhanadzor have become a new challenge, beginning with the language. Dr. Khacho first had trouble reading pharmaceutical information in Armenian.

“I haven’t read in Armenian for 25 years. Мy professional library and medical books are in Arabic. Besides, every country has its typical diseases. To have up-to-date knowledge and become familiarized with the Armenian medical standards--to bring credibility to our clinic of Ishkhanadzor—I applied to FAR’s Continuing Medical Education Program,” he said.

Dr. Khacho became one of our nine Continuing Medical Education (CME) training course participants, who received four weeks of practical training at the Surb Grigor Lusavorish Medical Center during March. He was able to immerse himself in hands-on experience and workshops at the Medical Center, and enhance his professional glossary. He also developed his computer skills at the National Medical Library, as well.  

“To me, continuing education is a lifelong adventure. Through the CME program, I have advanced my knowledge and skills in the field of general therapy, gastroenterology, cardiology, pediatrics, and neurology,” said Dr. Khacho.

He is very dedicated to his patients and the medical profession in general. He has always enjoyed helping and treating patients, and often visits them at home after his long days at the clinic.

While talking about his family’s experience of daily life, Dr. Khacho said there were still challenges. “Ishkhanadzor is a remote area, and the dialect is very different. Sometimes I need to ask the patients to repeat themselves a number of times so I can catch all the words and understand their complaints. There is no laboratory in our clinic and there is a lack of specialists and nurses. However, I put these difficulties aside and enjoy the simple pleasures life has offered me here. It’s freedom, peace and tranquility—something we were deprived of in Syria. No more travel for me, and no other country. This is my homeland. If I leave, you leave, and the others leave, then who will stay here?”


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