WiRED International Advances Community Health Program in Armenia



n our first venture into Southwestern Asia, WiRED, in coordination with Armenia Caritas, has just initiated plans for a country-wide health education program in Armenia. Launch of this project will involve six key towns in this history-rich country, once a part of the former Soviet Union.


Initially, WiRED will make available its expanding Community Health Information (CHI) e-library in clinics, Caritas facilities, and at other community access points in Amasia, Chambarak, Gavar, Gyumri, Noyemberyan and Vardenis. (See our earlier story.) Once these pilot centers are up and running, WiRED will explore additional locations where our training facilities can offer the greatest impact on community health. WiRED’s information centers are locally run and become a central part of the communities they serve.


Poverty and high unemployment in Armenia mean that many people cannot afford medical care and have few reliable sources of healthcare information. Critical health topics include diabetes, stroke, hypertension, rheumatic heart disease and cancer, which WiRED plans to address with its comprehensive training modules. As a demonstration of the CHI e-library, WiRED translated three of its 16 modules on diabetes into the Armenian language. Why diabetes? Peace Corps Volunteers working in Armenia wrote to us earlier this year about the prevalence of the condition and asked about the availability of training material. We are currently in discussions to provide these health training programs to Peace Corps Volunteers who can use them in a wide variety of community training forums.


  • Population: 2,974,184
  • Unemployment: 20 to 60% in rural areas; 45.5% among youth ages 15 to 24
  • Armenians living below the poverty line: 42.9%
  • Critical health topics: diabetes, stroke, hypertension, rheumatic heart disease and cancer.

*U.S. Government Sources

Working in coordination with Armenian medical organizations, WiRED will also develop new modules to address special needs. Materials will be translated into Armenian, so they will be accessible to all community members. Modules are available on the Web and on thumb drives, and can be accessed on an individual’s own initiative or on a physician’s recommendation. Modules are written at different levels of complexity, from advanced instruction for medical professionals to basic training for lay people. A consortium of donors will provide each center with its own laptop and projector in support of an outreach program that will allow volunteers, including Peace Corps Volunteers, to visit community meetings of pregnant women, diabetes patients, elderly people and others who can benefit from focused health education.


WiRED’s director, Gary Selnow said, “Now that we have launched our W-HELP portal, we have the tools to take our programs to the global level through the Internet as well as on portable media. We are excited that Armenia will join the W-HELP network, as WiRED extends its mission to improve community health around the world.”


Goal: To provide, in a compassionate and competent manner, primary ambulatory care for needy patients in Gyumri and those coming from surrounding areas.


  • To provide direct primary care, limited basic laboratory services and essential medicines, as available, for established patients—amounting to 5,000–5,500 individuals from about 1,600 families.
  • To expand the activities of the Primary Health Care Center (PHCC) by introducing the system of regular home visits to the lonely elderly and to other patients as required.
  • To continue retraining of two local physicians and two nurses.
  • To engage in regular weekly patient education and to promote preventive medicine among patients who attend the PHCC; to introduce training courses for pregnant women, aiming for a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy and preparation for delivery.

WiRED wishes to thank the following people for their generous assistance with this new project:

  • Mr. Sebouh Baghdoyan—retired United Nations program officer who serves as Armenia’s coordinator for the new CHI program.
  • Dr. Varazdat Karapetyan—Director of the Small and Medium Entrepreneurship Development National Center of Armenia. Dr. Karapetyan provided the WiRED team with accommodations during the visit and is supporting the program in other ways.
  • Ms. Anahit Mkhoyan—Executive Director, Caritas Armenia.
  • Ms. Anahit Gevorgyan—Head of Community Development and Public Health Departments.
  • Ms. Liana Yefremyan—Designated WiRED Facilitator for Armenia.
  • Ms. Diana Miribyan—Caritas Coordinator of Gavar.
  • Ms. Mery Melikyan and Ms. Narine Khatchatryan—Amasia Social Development Centre.
  • Ms. Shushan Mkhitaryan, Ms. Nune Mirzoyan, Mr. Ashot Sahakyan—Chambarak: Hamazarg NGO.
  • Dr. Lusine Masoyan—Gavar Clinic of the Armenian-American Wellness Center.
  • Dr. Arevhat Avalyan, Ms. Hasmik Azibekyan, Mr. Stewart Brewster—Support for Noyemberyan NGO.
  • Ms. Melania Yepremyan and Mr. Vahe Eghoyan—Vardenis: Astghavard NGO for Disabled Children.
  • Dr. Ara Nahabedian—Orthopedic Surgeon at Leighton Hospital in Crewe-Cheshire, England. Dr. Nahabedian travels to Armenia often to perform free surgeries for children and adults.
  • Ms. Shoghig Nahabedian—a specialist in Armenian cuisine and nutrition.
  • Drs. Jerry and Mariam Manoukians—the Armenian Medical International Committee.
  • Mr. Hovhannes Takukyan, Orthopedic Surgeon, Manchester, England.

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