Upon entering FAR’s Conference Hall Dr. Lawrence Najarian, President of the Armenian American Health Professionals Organization (AAHPO), smiled gently and greeted everyone. He radiated enthusiasm as he took his seat around the oval table and softly took the notebook out of his bag. With his beaming smile, Dr. Najarian discussed with participants of FAR’s Continuing Medical Education (CME) Program and other healthcare providers the motives of his visit to Armenia.

While he was there to take part in a conference organized by the Armenian Eye Care Project*, his trip to Yerevan also had a specific medical mission—to partake in knowledge sharing with other healthcare specialists, and to share his medical expertise of ophthalmology with CME trainees. “We are doctors and we constantly have to do the very best for our patients, which means we have to always acquire new knowledge through the CME program and the Medical Library’s resources. We hope to contribute to that continuously, so we are looking for new ways to transfer knowledge, to help each of you be in the best position that you can be,” he said. As a project that offers professional development to doctors from Armenia’s rural provinces, CME focuses a great deal on knowledge sharing to carry out its mission of improving overall healthcare in Armenia.

“Larry is our great contributor, our friend and partner,” said FAR Healthcare Programs Director Dr. Hambardzum Simonyan. “Since 2011, AAHPO on behalf of Dr. Larry Najarian and Dr. Raffi Hovanessian, has been supporting FAR’s CME program, which has enabled us to invite a large number of healthcare providers from Artsakh to participate in our one-month practical training courses here,” he said. “For comparison, I want to add that in the course of 2005-2011, we had 15 participants from Artsakh, whereas between 2011 and 2017, the number of healthcare providers from there increased to 200.”

Dr. Najarian also mentioned his willingness to cooperate with the FAR healthcare team to find new ways of transferring medical knowledge and skills to Armenian colleagues. “The major goal of AAHPO is to help transfer knowledge. We find that there is a great demand for knowledge by our colleagues here in Armenia. They want to learn more and I think there are a lot of challenges to learning more – the first being geographical; many people live in remote communities and don’t have an access. The second is the technological barrier [lack of computers]. By giving a lot of knowledge to our trustees, we can help to train one position [one doctor] and that position then goes home and can treat a lot of people in need. It’s all about making an exponential impact rather than just treating. We do medical missions and we enjoy it. We meet people and we treat people in need but one doctor can only treat a small number of patients. If that one doctor can come and not only see a few patients but also help to share knowledge with other doctors then that knowledge will really help a lot of people. This is our real goal,” he concluded.

*The 15th International Conference on Ophthalmology and Neonatology was held on July 24 – 26 in Yerevan, which gathered prominent experts in various fields of ophthalmology and neonatology from different countries dedicated to global challenges and needs.