Rep. Koutoujian Hosts State House Forum: First Step to Massachusetts Armenia Healthcare Cooperation

WATERTOWN–MA–In an effort to initiate cooperation between healthcare administrators and professionals in Massachusetts and Armenia–State Representative Peter J. Koutoujian (D-Waltham) hosted a reception and discussion at the Massachusetts State House on September 29.

High-level guests attending were Armenian Health Minister Dr. Norayr Davidian–Massachusetts Department of Public Health Commissioner Christine Ferguson–and Senate Chairman of the Joint Committee on Health Care Richard T. Moore.

Rep. Koutoujian–who is the House Chairman of the Joint Committee on Health Care–also invited healthcare professionals from around Massachusetts and members of the Armenian-American community to participate in the forum.

Commissioner Ferguson discussed several methods of cooperation in the healthcare sector between the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Republic of Armenia–including–as a start–opening up communication between the two parties. Commissioner Ferguson also spoke of the relative advantage Armenia has by being in a position to select a healthcare system best suited for Armenia–by studying the advantages and disadvantages of US–Canadian–and various European models.

Commissioner Ferguson conveyed she would be glad assist in organizing a group of professionals to study various healthcare systems to aid the Ministry in their evaluation.

Dr. Davidian thanked the people and government of United States for their twelve-plus years of continuing assistance to the Republic of Armenia and its people–beginning with the humanitarian aid that followed the tragic 1988 earthquake. Armenia’s healthcare system–he noted–is currently undergoing large-scale reform. Citing Armenia’s growing economy–Minister Davidian explained that the growth has had a positive affect on the healthcare sector; he was quick to point out–however–that much more work needs to be done.

Responding to various questions–Dr. Davidian said Armenia’s healthcare-delivery institutions are undergoing consolidation to ensure efficiency of resources and improved service–an initiative undertaken in consultation with the World Bank.

He also said that close to one-hundred-fifty medical doctors have been retrained in the United States in the last ten years.

The Minister reported that improvemen’s have been made in rural areas–but the lack of ambulances and proper medical equipment and technology in those areas–remains a critical problem.

Longtime community activist and Armenian Health Alliance founder Dr. Carolann Najarian noted the Commonwealth is in a position to assist Armenia in two major areas: hospital infection control–and the serious problem antibiotic-resistant diseases resulting from freely available over-the-counter antibiotics.

Senator Moore explained that Massachusetts has led US’s effort in the prevention and spread of infections in hospitals–and stated that this would indeed be an area of cooperation between the Commonwealth and Armenia.

"We would like to thank Representative Koutoujian and his staff for organizing a productive and informative forum on the various ways Massachusetts and Armenia can cooperate in the healthcare sector," stated Chairperson of the Armenian National Committee of Eastern Massachusetts Ivan Ardhaldjian–explaining that much-needed interaction among Massachusetts–a US hub for healthcare–individual American Armenia’s involved in the healthcare sector–and the Armenian Ministry of Health–can and should lead to joint programs and initiatives–including student exchanges.

"We hope this discussion is the beginning of lasting cooperation between the Republic and Commonwealth–and we’re certain that Rep. Koutoujian’s leadership and efforts can result in solid–bona fide programs that register significant success," Ardhaldjian concluded.

Representative Koutoujian was selected by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to observe the May elections in Armenia. Rep. Koutoujian spent eight days in the Republic of Armenia monitoring the Parliamentary elections–including the opening of polling stations–voting–and tabulation of results.

Minister Davidian’s participation in the forum was a part of his first official visit to the United States. Minister Davidian and Armenia’s Minister of Agriculture David Lokian are touring the United States and Canada to meet with government officials and community members.

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