Socioeconomic difficulties lead to health problems

The Armenian General Benevolent Union’s (AGBU) Claudia Nazarian Medical Center, where many Syrian Armenians receive free medical consultation since April 2017, is operating through its ophthalmology, gynecology, cardiology and pediatric departments. According to research, over 60% of patients, who have visited the Center, suffer from high blood pressure and cardiovascular insufficiency.

As Krikor Darakjian, the cardiologist of the Center, observes, occurrence of such diseases is not surprising, considering the circumstances that Syrian Armenians have been going through over the past few years.

“The war forced people to leave everything – their homes, jobs, and find themselves in refugee conditions. They hardly manage to pay their house rents and buy food. However, the new polyclinic is a great service for them,” says cardiologist Darakjian, who also has left Aleppo for Armenia. He, as the Center’s other doctors, is a graduate of Yerevan State Medical University.

Seda Sargisian, who has been living in Armenia for eight months, is waiting for her turn in front of the ophthalmologist’s room. She says, other members of her family are also using the services of the medical center and are very much grateful for the provided care.

Relaying the history of the Medical Center, Krikor Darakjian mentioned that when in 2012 Syrian Armenians started to flee to Armenia, a year later pediatrician Jean Beshlian launched this healthcare project, trying to help his compatriots.

“I joined Jean Beshlian together with the gynecologist Meruzhan Keshishian, ophthalmologist Margaret Keshishian, and dermatologist Sukias Berberian. We started to work and give help. There were challenges in the beginning, when the flow of Syrian Armenians started; local polyclinics were not able to see them as they did not have registration. And while those difficulties were being addressed, we started to work, see people, and write out prescriptions. AGBU linked us with Mission East NGO, the assistance of which proved very useful. They provided medications to our patients,” recalls cardiologist Darakjian.

Jean Beshlian, who is a pediatrician with 30 years of service in Aleppo, mentions that four years ago they started charity work unofficially, but since April 2017, the polyclinic - remodeled and well furnished with state of the art equipment - has been licensed and is operating officially.

“It has been a wonderful opportunity for all of us. In these four years I have personally attended to some 1700-1800 patients,” says Dr. Beshlian. Ophthalmologist Margaret Keshishian has been living in her motherland and attending to her patients in the Center for already four years.

“This newly opened polyclinic is a great undertaking, very philanthropic and extremely important for Syrian Armenians. At least we somewhat relieve them from anxieties. People are depressed, they have left their homes, jobs and fled from the country. When they gather here, it’s like they feel the spirit of Aleppo,” elaborates Dr. Keshishian.

Cardiologist Darakjian mentions that for more serious medical examinations or surgeries patients are referred to Izmirlian Medical Center using on special reference forms.

Currently AGBU Armenia, Izmirlian Foundation, and the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin have joined forces to ensure that Syrian Armenians receiving free of charge consultations at the AGBU Claudia Nazarian Medical Center can get their follow up examination and treatment at Izmirlian Medical Center offered at up to 45% discount.

Astghik Aghekyan, who left Aleppo for Armenia in 2012, has been referred to Izmirlian Medical Center for follow-up in-depth medical examinations.

“With this referral, I will have my head examined free of charge, which would us a lot of money, today we cannot afford it with only one breadwinner in our household. Here they support us with everything, we appreciate it and are very grateful,” says Astghik Aghekian.

Statistical data on operation of the Medical Center indicate that the Center needs new avenues of cooperation that would allow to reduce the number of patients suffering from different heart disorders.




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