Armenia is an ancient, landlocked, mountainous country located in the southern part of the Caucasus region. Armenia prides itself on being the first nation to formally adopt Christianity (early 4th century). The social and economic upheavals that followed the earthquake of 1988 combined with the political collapse of the Soviet Union to create a catastrophic public health situation in Armenia.
In June 2010 first study abroad group consisting of graduate and undergraduate students from University of Utah, under the direction of Hripsime Zatikyan Wright, M.D., MPH, organized and carried out an Action-Oriented Community Diagnosis (AOCD) with the country of Armenia.
Interacting with Armenian people and the organizations such as USAID Armenia, World Vision Armenia, Caritas Armenia and Ministry of Health already working to improve conditions, students gained a first hand experience about conducting global public health projects. This project provided an unparallel learning experience and insights to pressing health issues facing former USSR countries.
“Armenians are survivors by nature. The people and their country have managed to remain through a history of foreign conquest, but the Armenian people not only pride themselves on their history but are also eager to see their country take a place at the forefront of modern advancement. Today they face new challenges, but they intend to overcome them as they have overcome others in the past. The nation lacks the financial resources to fully transition into the developed world, but organizations working in Armenia have shown that many resources do exist and can be tapped to achieve the progress Armenians want to see.”
Future teams will select specific sites to work in and partners to collaborate with. These sites will be diagnosed in greater depth, and projects will be developed and implemented to help unlock the communities’ latent potential and expand the scope of what they are able to accomplish.