The Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA — As the humanitarian crisis unfolds in war-torn Artsakh (also known as Nagorno-Karabakh), the local healthcare infrastructure in the region and in neighboring Armenia has been overwhelmed in caring for the thousands of civilians and soldiers who have been wounded as a result of the recent war with Azerbaijan. Coupled with an explosive increase in COVID-19 cases within the region due to the conflict, hospitals and clinics have been significantly understaffed and undersupplied in caring for those in need.
At UCLA, a dedicated interdisciplinary team has come together to provide both immediate medical disaster relief and also long-term humanitarian aid and infrastructure support to help re-stabilize the healthcare capacity in the region. This coordinated effort is taking place under the umbrella of The Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA, and implemented through the generosity, advocacy, and support of UCLA Health.
The UCLA Health team, led by Dr. Eric Esrailian, consists of volunteers from the entire spectrum of the UCLA Health and University systems, including academic faculty, physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, psychologists, administrators, staff, and students. All of them, whether or not they are of Armenian descent, have rallied together to unite for a greater cause.
Dr. Shant Shekherdimian, a pediatric surgeon at UCLA, was recently in Armenia, directly providing in-person professional expertise. He highlighted how the global community needs to come together to provide much-needed assistance for this humanitarian crisis: “The combined burden of war, displacement of families from their homes, and a severe pandemic have taken a major toll on Armenia's fragile health care system. However, by combining our efforts and resources, we can no doubt rebuild and come out of this crisis stronger than ever before.”
This week, the first of several planned shipments of medical aid was flown out from the UCLA warehouses to Artsakh and Armenia, containing life-saving medicine, supplies, and equipment.
The extent of pain and suffering endured by those native to the region is extraordinary. The team at UCLA hopes to provide at least part of the aid needed for a return to stability, building a more positive future trajectory for both Armenia and Artsakh.