Local Medics Team Up with Diaspora to Battle COVID-19 in Cyberspace

Yerevan – Doctors in Yerevan and New York have teamed up to share knowledge on how the COVID-19 pandemic is playing out Stateside. What is unusual about this exchange is that it took place online and involved representatives of the Armenian diaspora in the Big Apple. 

The session—essentially an intercontinental exchange of expertise, via freeform brainstorming—provided an opportunity for Armenian medical professionals to learn about global trends, effective methods of treatment, and real-life experiences in addressing COVID-19 within New York’s hospitals.  

They also discussed practices in the US to apply Artificial Intelligence to better track and respond to COVID-19 outbreaks, in the first of a series of video conferences that IOM Armenia will be facilitating to link experts in the diaspora with health professionals in Armenia. The aim is to enhance Armenia’s ability to respond to the COVID-19 Crisis. 

“We used big data analysis to make this happen, which is something we have been piloting for several months,” said Ilona Ter-Minasyan, Head of IOM’s Armenia Office. “It involves using software to scan through large public databases of professionals like LinkedIn to identify professionals with the needed skills, and names that would indicate the person is likely of a specific national origin – in this case Armenian. We couldn’t bring the expertise in, so we sought it out online.” 

And so, it came to pass that Dr. Bedros Taslakian, Clinical Assistant Professor at New York University’s School of Medicine last week joined a videoconference with a group of Armenian doctors and radiologists currently engaged in the country’s COVID-19 response.  

The pandemic has placed unprecedented strain on healthcare systems across the world. Developing countries such as Armenia often suffer from weaker healthcare systems with fewer resources and expertise to respond to the crisis. There have been over 1,000 cases in the small Caucasus republic, including 14 deaths. 

“Immigrants have played a key role in the global response,” noted Michael Newson, Senior Labour and Human Development Officer at IOM’s Vienna Regional Office. “In the United States, immigrants account for 14 per cent of physicians and nurses; in New York, 29 per cent of nurses are foreign-born”.   

Newson added: “Medical professionals within the diaspora, especially those who now have experience in addressing the COVID-19 Crisis, are in a critical position to bridge this knowledge gap and support developing countries in responding to and addressing the COVID-19 outbreak.” 

For more information please contact Karinée Khojayan, IOM Armenia, Tel.: +37410 585692. Email: