Throughout its 30-year history in Armenia, the Armenian EyeCare Project has always placed great value on establishing and maintaining strategic partnerships to expand our organization’s capacity and reach; developing a quality care system in Armenia; and educating the public to improve the overall wellbeing and health of Armenians. Together with our partners, through the years our organization has built a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the field of ophthalmology in Armenia and even expanded into interrelated areas like pediatrics, diabetes, public health and more.
Our recent cooperation with the French NGO Lumière Française is another vivid example of a successful partnership that will result in increased benefits and value for the population of Armenia. The AECP has partnered with Lumière Française to establish an Armenian-French Ophthalmic School in Armenia, which will be used to improve the skills and knowledge of local physicians by offering a series of training courses and hands-on practice opportunities for ophthalmologists in the country.
Lumière Française works through its partner organization Assistance Publique–Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP), which is the largest hospital system in Europe and one of the largest in the world, providing health care, education, research, prevention and emergency medical service in 52 branches of medicine.
AECP’s joint program with Lumière Française and AP-HP kicked off at the end of April in Gyumri, Armenia’s second-largest city. During this time, retinal surgeries were performed at the John Ohannes Khachigian AECP Regional Eye Center, making it the second location in Armenia, after Yerevan, where such surgeries are done. There were also a series of lectures by Armenian and French ophthalmologists, hands-on training through patient examinations, assessments of complicated cases, observation of surgeries and more.
During the four-day event, French and Armenian lecturers covered topics related both to the anterior (cataract) and posterior (retina) segments of the eye and conducted a series of workshops. Among healthcare officials, partners and physicians, the event gathered promising ophthalmologists who already have several years of practice and are working to master specialties in ophthalmology with the purpose to share international experience in the field of cataract and retinal diseases. The event concluded with a conference that was attended by over 100 ophthalmologists offline and about 100 online.
In addition to the hands-on training and lectures, these selected ophthalmologists will have fellowship opportunities in France to deepen their knowledge and skills and an obligation to share their acquired knowledge with colleagues upon their return to Armenia. A total of four missions are expected to take place this year through this joint project, focusing on various areas of ophthalmology.
“The Armenian EyeCare Project has been implementing various development programs in Armenia for the past 30 years,” AECP Country Director Nune Yeghiazaryan said. “Taking into consideration the commitment and potential benefits of the partnership with Lumière Française and AP-HP, I am confident that this school will become another successful program in the field of ophthalmology.”
Lumière Française Chairperson Levon Khachatryan agrees. “Due to the recent Artsakh War, the obscurity of various needs was evoked. Lumière Française initiated several missions to Armenia and Artsakh and shaped our medical purposes. One of them was the establishment of the Armenian-French Ophthalmic School for the Improvement of Skills and Knowledge in Gyumri. Through our cooperation with the Armenian EyeCare Project and AP-HP we are proud to turn this idea into action,” Khachatryan said.
According to Guillaume Narjollet, Counsellor for Cooperation and Cultural Affairs at the French Embassy in Armenia, healthcare is one of the most important areas of cooperation for the French Embassy in Armenia. “The Armenian-French collaboration provides opportunities to further develop the field of ophthalmology, especially in the regions, ensuring availability of quality ophthalmological services far beyond the capital, Yerevan,” Narjollet said.
“The professional development of Armenian ophthalmologists through academic exchange as well as clinical cases and lab training is an extraordinary opportunity and this first success seems very promising to me and my colleagues,” AP-HP International Relations Director Florence Veber said.
Though the focus of these training courses is to provide learning opportunities for regional ophthalmologists in the Shirak province of Armenia as well as physicians involved in the AECP Regional Eye Centers, ophthalmologists all over Armenia are also expected to benefit from this partnership.