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electronic bulletin

2011- # 2

IN THIS ISSUE

Overview 2011 The AECP fifth tour in Armenia started.

International conference on prevention and treatment of ROP took place in Yerevan. It summarized the activities of one year of the ROP national program and outlined further steps.

The AECP accomplished its seven-year cooperation with USAID and started a long-term collaboration with the Orange Foundation.

One Year of Activities – Results and Prospects National Program of Retinopathy of Prematurity International Conference, July 15-16, Yerevan

Cooperation with Orange Foundation in the Marzes of Shirak and Aragatsotn

The AECP visited the following marzes in 2011: Kotayk – March/April, Tavush – April/June, Lori- June/July, Shirak – August/Spetmeber, Aragatsotn – October/November. The main results achieved since June 2003 to September 2011: • • • • • • •

291,609 people (including 130,339 children) were screened by the AECP medical groups in their villages or in adjacent settlements 31,968 people underwent thorough examination on the MEH 13,453 patients were operated on and treated on the MEH 40,365 eyeglasses were provided 2,000 health care providers, including 61 regional ophthalmologists and 37 ophthalmic nurses, were trained in eye diseases 513,156 public education handouts were distributed 378 public education classes for 9800 children and 900 parents and health activists were delivered.

According to the preliminary schedule the following marzes will be visited during 2012: Ararat –March/May, Vayots Dzor/June, Syunik/July, Armavir/September-October. A visit is possible to Nagorno Karabakh.

The "Vallex" Group of Companies Assisted AECP Mission in Lori Marz

Sport Event Marked World Sight Day 2011 in Armenia

Annette A. Hayrapetian Helps Armenian People

bringing

sight

to armenian eyes the armenian eyecare project aygestan 5, house 7 yerevan, armenia phone (374 10) 55 90 68 fax (374 10) 57 76 94 i n fo @ e ye c a re p ro j e c t armenia.com

p.o. box 5630 newport beach, ca 92662 phone 949.675.5767 fax 949 673.2356 aecp@eyecareproject.com

www.eyecareproject-armenia.com www.eyecareproject.com

Founded in 1992 in the United States by an Armenian-American ophthalmologist Roger Ohanesian, M.D., the Armenian EyeCare Project (AECP) is a California based nonprofit corporation dedicated to the elimination of preventable blindness in Armenia. In 2003, the AECP established an office in Yerevan and launched its program “Bringing Sight to Armenian Eyes.” The Initiative has five comprehensive, integrated components developed to eliminate preventable blindness. They include direct patient care, medical education and training, public education, research and capacity building. . The Mobile Eye Hospital, a state-of-the-art facility, travels country-wide to provide high quality eye care in the regions of Armenia.

USAID and the AECP Mark the Completion of GDA Partnership


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AECP Electronic Bulletin I 2011 - # 2

One Year of Activities – Results and Prospects. National Program of Retinopathy of Prematurity International Conference, July 15-16, Yerevan Over 400 Armenian infants screened over the last year and 36 infants received free-of- charge high-quality laser surgeries.

The central event of the 37th AECP medical mission was the international conference “One Year of Activities – Results and Prospects. National Program of Retinopathy of Prematurity,” held on July 15 -16 in Yerevan. The organizers were the AECP, the Vision Center of Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, the RA Ministry of Health and USAID. Over 100 Armenian ophthalmologists and neonatologists participated in the event. The conference summed up the one year results of the ROP screening and treatment program and outlined future plans. As it was reported, over 400 Armenian infants were screened over the last year and 36 kids received free-of- charge high-quality laser surgeries. It is worth mentioning that the ROP program started in 2010. According to the respective instruction by the RA Ministry of Health, issued just after the launch of the program, regular eye screenings are being held at all Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) in Yerevan. The infants needing surgeries receive them locally, at the NICU premises by a laser surgeon trained in that technique. The international conference was led by Dr. Thomas Lee, Director of the Retina Institute at the

Vision Center of Los Angeles Children’s Hospital and Dr. Elisabeth Raab, Deputy Medical Director at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The presenters were also Dr. Hrant Kalenteryan, the RA Chief Neonatologist, Dr. Tadevos Hovhannisyan, laser surgeon, and Dr. Ruzanna Harutyunyan, pediatric ophthalmologist at the Malayan Eye Center and the coordinator of the ROP program in Armenia. The presentations and reports of the conference related to the ROP program achievements for the last year and the advances in ROP screening and treatment. A special emphasis was made on the cooperation with neonatologists in oxygen supply regulation and control, as a major factor for ROP prevention. In this regard the AECP plans to support the Armenian neonatologists in two major directions: import and installation of necessary oxygen control equipment and capacity building of the Armenian specialists. The practical sessions of the conference continued on July 16 at the Malayan Eye Center for ophthalmologists and at the “Muratsan” Medical Center for neonatologists. Dr. Thomas Lee examined more than a dozen of children, showing advanced techniques in eye

screening and treatment. A debriefing meeting concluded the second day of the Conference. Dr. Elisabeth Raab met with the neonatal staff at several NICUs in Yerevan. She was quite impressed with the capacity of the Armenian doctors, who manage to provide quality care to infants with minimal resources. She said that with more advanced equipment they will be able to improve significantly the neonatal care, which will definitely contribute to the ROP prevention in Armenia.

Cooperation with the Orange Foundation in the Marzes of Shirak and Aragatsotn The AECP has started its cooperation with the Orange Foundation in summer, 2011. The Orange Foundation is the main structure within the Orange Group, realizing charitable and philanthropy projects. Considering communication as the main stimuli of social development, the Orange Foundation supports project that make communication more accessible to everyone. The Orange Foundation in Armenia focuses its work on the following key areas: community development, children, health, and disability. The AECP is proud to announce that the Orange Foundation has provided 50,000 EUR donation to support the AECP activities in Armenia in 2012.

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Shirak Marz With the support of the Orange Foundation 5,693 people received eye care services in Shirak.

From August to October 2011, the AECP groups visited two towns and 44 villages of Shirak marz, in the regions of Ani, Artik, Akhurian, Ashotsk, and Amasia. The AECP Mobile Eye Hospital was stationed in three regional centers: Maralik, Artik, and Akhurian, where people received necessary treatment, including surgeries and lasers. In the framework of the project 4,564 adults and 1,129 children underwent eye screenings, 614 adults had detailed eye examination in the Mobile Eye Hospital, 2,429 glasses were provided, 293 surgeries and lasers were conducted, eye care public education classes were orgnanized for 415 childrenin nine schools if Shirak region parallel to eye screenings. Even though Gyumri, the regional center of the Shirak marz, was not included in the program due to its well developed available eye care services, about 50 Gyumri residents received full medical services and free-of-charge surgeries. All of them were identified by the Governor’s office and Mission Armenia, NGO as extremely vulnerable and were referred to the AECP for medical assistance through a special request. To support the works of the AECP in Shirak the Orange Foundation allotted 9 million drams. On September 30th, Bruno Duthoit, the Chairman of the Board of the Orange Foundation, visited the AECP Mobile Eye Hospital in Akhurian. Mr. Duthoit saw the lasers and surgical

equipment, observed eye screenings and surgeries, talked to the patients who shared their impressions. After his visit to the MEH Mr. Duthoit summarized: “It is a matter of priority for us to facilitate communication among people and, as all of us know, eye sight has a big role in this respect. Today we met people whose life has changed thanks to the Foundation and our partners. We are proud for our partnership with the Armenian Eye Care Project. Having in view the results we see today, we have decided to continue our partnership. The next region to host the mobile hospital will be the marz of Aragatsotn.”

Varsik, 64 y/o, approached Mr. Duthoit to express her deepest appreciation for helping her regain the eye sight. She thanked the Chairman of the Board of the Orange Foundation on behalf of her large family. Mr. Duthoit receiving a certificate of appreciation from the governor of Shirak marz, Mr. Ashot Giziryan.

Aragatsotn Marz With the support of the Orange Foundation 3,460 people received eye care services in Aragatsotn.

The program was launched in October and lasted till the end of November. Eye screenings were conducted for 2,019 adults and 1,254 children, 212 patients had surgeries and lasers, 1,095 were provided with eye glasses. Nine schools in Aragatsotn hosted eye care public education classes for 478 children parallel to eye screenings. Orange allotted around 5 million drams for the implementation of the project. Local ophthalmologists in Talin and Ashtarak regions actively supported the AECP in eye screenings. The local residents and those from neighboring villages applied to local ophthalmologists, who received the patients in their regional centers or visited the villages on certain days. The AECP medical teams visited Aragats and Aparan regions in October. The Mobile Eye Hospital was stationed in Tsaghkahovit, Aparan, Talin and Ashtarak . On November 17, the Chairman of the Board of the Orange Foundation, Bruno Duthoit, visited the Mobile Eye Hospital hosted in Ashtarak. This was his second visit.

Bruno Duthoit said: “After the project in Shirak we are today in Aragatsotn where we met people whose life has changed thanks to our joint efforts. It’s worth to note that 68% of children identified with eye problems were diagnosed for the first time. It’s extremely important to determine the problems at the early stage in order to prevent their future development. We are proud for our partnership with the AECP and congratulate them on these results.” “We accomplished our forth tour in Armenia in Shirak marz and started the fifth cycle in Aragatsotn. We plan to visit the marzes of Ararat, Armavir, Vayots Dzor, and Syunik during 2012. Also a visit to Karabakh is possible. We are very pleased to see the Orange Foundation as our strategic partner, as a good example of corporate philanthropy in Armenia” said Nune Yeghiazaryan, the Country Director of the AECP.


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AECP Electronic Bulletin I 2011 - # 2

The "Vallex" Group of Companies Assisted AECP Mission in Lori Marz Thanks to this program, over 800 residents of the Tumanyan region were screened, about 70 of these people had surgeries and 300 got eye-glasses. In addition to this, the AECP doctors examined the staff of the “Teghut” factory.

Last year the AECP visited the Lori marz for the fourth time. Eye care activities took place in Tumanyan, Gugark, Tashir, Stepanavan, and Spitak regions. The Mobile Eye Hospital was hosted in the towns of Alaverdi, Vanadzor, Stepanavan, and Spitak. During the previous three visits to Lori the AECP doctors examined over 20,000 residents, 1,300 out of these people had surgeries and lasers, and over 4,000 people got eye-glasses. During the fourth visit to the marz another 5,000 people benefited from free-of-charge eye care services, while 300 of those underwent surgeries. For the first time the AECP Mobile Eye Hospital

2011

(MEH) was stationed in Alaverdi at the special request of the “Vallex” Group of Companies. The MEH was unable to travel to Alavery before, because of the destroyed roads. Now, when the roads are renovated, it was made possible. It was not the first program with the support of the “Vallex” Group. In 2008, the AECP worked in Drmbon village of the Martakert region of Karabakh with the support of the “Base Metals” company, providing eye care services to the local population. In 2009, the “Armenian Copper Program” provided support to the AECP doctors working in the Tumanyan region, covering the costs of the transportation of people to eye

Sport Event Marked World Sight Day 2011 in Armenia

For the first time in Armenia the World Sight Day was marked by a sport event.

The Armenian Goalball Championship 2011, on the initiative of the Armenian National Disability Sports Federation (ANDSF) and the AECP, and by sponsorship and support of the Orange Foundation, “MIKA Limited” Holding, and the RA Health Ministry, was held in “MIKA” sports center on October 13. The AECP has been celebrating the World Sight Day for already eight years in Armenia. This day is marked on the 2nd Thursday of October of each year worldwide, aiming to draw attention of the public to the problems of people with eye sight disorders. This year, for the first time in Armenia, the World Sight Day was marked by a sport event. Nune Yeghiazaryan, the AECP Country Director said: “During previous years various events, such as exhibitions, charity concerts, presentations of publications had been held on the occasion of the World Sight Day. This year, jointly with several partners, we have the honor to organize and hold a sport event, the mission of which is to stress that eyesight problems should not hinder the people with such problems from living an active life, going in for sports and integrating into the society. Contribution of each of us to this issue can be decisive. We believe that this event is a good example of such contribution”. Four teams (3 players in each team) participated in the third Armenian Goalball Championship

screening locations and the preparation of eyeglasses. This year, eye care services were provided to over 800 residents of the Tumanyan region, over 70 of these people received surgeries and 300 got eye-glasses. In addition to this, the AECP doctors examined the staff of the “Teghut” factory. The active engagement of the local medical personnel in AECP activities was typical of this year’s mission in Lori. The local ophthalmologists and family doctors examined and selected many people for treatment before the AECP mission and the Mobile Eye Hospital arrived.

2011: “Sipan” from Yerevan, “Shirak” from Gyumri, “Aryutsner” from Abovyan and “Kaytsak” from Ejmiatsin. The tournament was held circularly, i.e. all four teams competed with each other. The winner team of each match gained 2 scores and the losing team - 0 score. The drawn game brought 1 score to each team. The champion became the team with maximum scores “Aryutsner” from Abovyan. The organizers of the tournament granted the winner team with the championship cup. The teams holding the 1st, 2nd and 3rd positions were awarded with gold, silver and bronze medals. All four teams got certificates of participation. In addition, the Orange Foundation has prepared a surprise. All 12 players were presented with a Caring phone, a special handset with big buttons tailored for those who have difficulties in communication. Among other functions it enables to get in contact with five previously registered numbers by one touch of the “Emergency” button. Bruno Duthoit, the Orange Foundation Chairman of the Board, said: “Thanks to our partnership with the AECP launched several months ago, thousands of people received medical sevices. Today we are also happy to support this event, which is an evidence of our care towards people with eye sight problems.”


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Annette A. Hayrapetian Helps Armenian People Thanks to the generous donations by Ms. Annette A. Hayrapetian from the Unites States, the provision of eye prosthesis was made possible for several children in Armenia. As a devoted member of the UN Women’s Guild, Ms. Annette Hayrapetyan follows the motto “Working for the welfare of needy children throughout the world.”

Eye Prostheses for Children In the framework of this particular program the AECP works closely with the “Faith & Love Center” NGO which identifies and refers children needing eye prostheses.

Edmond Muradyan Of all communication tools, eleven year old Edmond Muradyan has been gifted only with vision – the boy is deaf and dumb. Even vision, which is the only window to external world for Edmond, was threatened, when it was found that he had a malignant tumor in the back of the eye. After a quite risky operation, Edmond lost his right eye in the end. Lilit, Edmon’s mother, made special arrangements to come to the hospital when Edmond was to receive his new prosthesis, sponsored by Ms. Annette Hayrapetyan. Lilit told us that Edmond felt very unhappy in the special school for deaf and dumb that he attended. Partially, because he could not wear the prosthesis he had, which did not fit properly his eye. The only way to secure a new prosthesis for the boy was to find a person or organization which would help the little boy. On November 2, Edmond received his new eye prosthesis at the Malayan Eye Center in Yerevan. Now he will go to school, resume his studies and continue communicating with his peers without worrying of how he looks.

Zohrab Nikoghosyan Zohrab had lost his left eye when he was two years old. One of his relatives had struck a knife in the wall with its edge coming out on the other side. Zohrab, as a toddler, approached the wall, hit it, and the sharp end of the knife damaged his eye – a horrible outcome of a savage and thoughtless game of adults. Even now, when telling this story, Tehmine, Zohrab’s mother, could not control her tears. She felt very sorry that her son, who was born absolutely healthy, has to live a life of a handicapped. Zohrab who is seven now and is supposed to be attending a school, refused to study due to the discomfort he experienced because of the damaged eye. All efforts aimed at restoring or retaining the vision in the left eye did not give any results. For Zohrab, eye prosthesis was the only solution to go back to school.

Nver Samsonyan Nver is about one year old. He was born at the weight of 800 grams, on the 27th week of pregnancy. As a result he had retinopathy of prematurity and was transferred to St. Petersburg for a surgery. Unfortunately the doctors were unable to save his right eye and had to remove it. Nver wears his name not occasionally (means “gift” translated from Armenian). He is the fourth but the only male child of Taguhi and Hayk. After three daughters he was more than an expected child for this family. His parents are very grateful for the benevolence towards their son.

Suzy Aleksanyan Suzy Aleksanyan has also benefited from the generous donation of Ms. Annete Hayrapetian. Suzy Aleksanyan was born in 1998 in Gyumri, Armenia’s second large city. She is the first and the only baby in the family and naturally all the love, affection, worries are directed towards her. In twenty days after the birth doctors diagnosed her with cornea turbidity in both eyes. As they were told later, it was a consequence of influenza that was left unnoticed by parents and doctors. “Since that very day, when we learnt of Suzy’s diagnosis, our roaming life started and perhaps runs until now” Suzy’s mother, Evelina said. Suzy has undergone countless surgeries, getting help only partially. In search of better treatment Suzy’s family decided to leave for Odessa (Ukraine) which is famous for high quality ophthalmologic services. More than six years Suzy received treatment in Odessa, however the family had to return to Armenia since had spent all their savings. The progress achieved during those 6 years of treatment was nullified. The family and the doctors eventually came to an understanding that there is nothing left but an eye prosthesis for Suzy. This was something that Suzy’s parents could not afford by no means for the time being. They addressed the AECP through Yerevan School # 14 for visually impaired children, where Suzy studies now. The request was shortly forwarded to Ms. Annette Hayrapetian, who sponsored the preparation of the eye prosthesis. Suzy received it at the Malayan Eye Center in Yerevan and was very happy.

Tigran Hovhannisyan Six-year-old Tigran is the other boy who benefited from this initiative. Problems with his right eye started a year ago. Due to careless treatment and incompatibility of the previous eye prosthesis, he had gangrene developing in the back of the eye. Tigran’s father, Viram, said that they often missed regular checkups due to financial problems. Each time they had to count carefully travelling costs to Yerevan from their home town Abovian, and these unjustified gaps between the visits accelerated malicious processes in Tigran’s eye.

Mary Serobyan Mary Serobyan, a 16-years-old Armenia girl, lives in Yerevan with her family. Doctors found a malicious tumor in her right eye and had to remove it along with the eye when she was five. Since then she wears prosthesis, needing to replace it every year, until she grows up. Mary’s family cannot afford to pay for the prosthesis regularly, since their income hardly covers expenses for housing and food. Thanks to this special AECP initiative, on August 2, 2011, Dr. Gagik Gasparyan installed the newly prepared eye prosthesis to Mary. Mary has just started classes at High School - wants to be a translator and is full of plans for reaching her goals. continue reading on page 6 >>>


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AECP Electronic Bulletin I 2011 - # 2

Eye Prostheses for Adults Emma Khachatryan, 77 y/o, is the first adult benefited from the donations provided by Annette Hayrapetian. She contacted the AECP through the referral of the Ministry of Health of Armenia. In August, 2011, Emma received a newly prepared freeof-charge prosthesis from the Malayan Eye Center. March 8th, which is the international Women’s Day and is largely celebrated in the world, has a totally different meaning for Emma and her family. On March 8 of 1991, a massive explosion of ammonium in a nearby garage took away lives of 57 people and left many hurt and disabled. Emma’s house was ruined fundamentally, leaving her with serious injuries – she lost her left eye and four fingers on the right hand. The whole family was hurt - her husband lost an ear, her son damaged both legs, her grandson got deep cuts and hits on the head and only with a miracle preserved the eyes and the ears untouched. In early 90s Armenia was involved in the military conflict with Azerbaijan, hence armor and weapons were easy to find. A lot of people kept them at home. The tragedy happened to Emma was not the only one occurred at that times. “We are a good family” said Anahit, Emma’s daughter-in-law, “even though the happenings of that horrible day had left an incurable sore in our lives, together we went through many difficulties and supported each during all those years.” Emma indeed has a good and large family. She has four children and

twelve grandchildren. She lives with one of her sons. The income of the family congregates mainly from the disability state pensions and the money Anahit earns at occasional cleaning jobs. As she told us, at the time when a prosthesis needed to be urgently replaced in Emma’s eye, they had only 26,000 AMD (~70 USD) available in the monthly family budget. “People have helped us in difficult situations before, but your contribution was the most complete and the most impressive one” said Anahit. “I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the benefactors who made this possible for me. ” Emma said. She was excited to find out the name of the benefactor, and we learned shortly about the reason of that excitement. She has a granddaughter with the same name - Annette, who she loves very much.

USAID and the AECP Mark the Completion of GDA Partnership September 2011 marked the completion of USAID Armenia’s seven-year partnership with the Armenian EyeCare Project within the Global Development Alliance “Bringing Sight to Armenian Eyes: A Primary and Ophthalmologic Health Care Alliance.”

The USAID and AECP joint efforts within the “Primary and Ophthalmological Health Care Alliance” project have resulted in many major achievements. Since the start of the project in 2004, the AECP has examined 245,000 people across Armenia, provided laser treatment or surgery to nearly 10,000 people in the Mobile Eye Hospital, and distributed 36,000 eyeglasses to those in need. The project has published two books for primary health care providers and ophthalmologists – Eye Diseases (2005) and Essentials of Ophthalmology (2007) – and it has trained over 2,000 regional ophthalmologists and primary health care providers in eye diseases. Through public communication programs, the AECP developed 13 public education brochures on eye diseases, eye care and safety (602,000 copies). Approximately 12,000 school children and 850 parents were enrolled in AECP’s public education sessions on eye care in the regions and in Yerevan. In 2006, the AECP established and equipped the Low Vision Center in partnership with the

The AECP staff in both offices in the United States and Armenia expresses its deepest appreciation to USAID for being a strategic partner during these years. As a result, many Armenian people received a unique chance to restore their eye sight and improved the quality of their lives.

Kanaker-Zeitun medical center. The AECP also established the Education & Diagnostic Center in conjunction with the Malayan Ophthalmological Center. In 2007, thanks to a donation from Pfizer, the project also established the Wet Lab at the Malayan Ophthalmological Center to allow doctors and students to improve their surgical skills. The AECP sponsored and organized three International Ophthalmology Teaching Conferences in Yerevan. In 2010, the project also launched the first and only Screening and Treatment Program on Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) in the region. Over 400 infants have already been screened and 40 babies were saved from lifetime blindness. The project published “Countdown Towards 2020: Activities and Statistics” presenting the activities carried out by the AECP in Armenia and services provided to the population during 2003-2009. The publication also includes eye care statistics and analysis on national and regional levels, and provides valuable insight for policy makers to analyze and estimate the demand of eye care services in the country.

The AECP has done a remarkable job in leveraging international and local funds to advance eye care in Armenia. The AECP will continue its operations in Armenia through online training and testing of healthcare providers, expanding the ROP program in the regions and carrying out the fifth tour of the Mobile Eye Hospital in the regions of Armenia. Capacity building, public communication, and research will continue to be integral components of the AECP comprehensive program “Bringing Sight to Armenian Eyes.” Article republished from http://armenia.usaid. gov/en/news-events/349


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