Republished from the March 2021 AGBU Magazine
Upgrading dental hygiene and health in war-torn Artsakh By the mid-1990s, the rural population of Artsakh was hit hard by the severe post-Soviet economic collapse and the devastating aftermath of a six-year war of independence. As a founding member and former president of the Armenian International Dental Association, Dr. Berdj Kiladjian of Boston realized the urgency of helping the population of Artsakh and helped found Hand in Hand, a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to the improvement of health and social welfare, focusing on dental care and preventative education in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The first free clinic opened in 1998 in the historic city of Shushi, which had been largely destroyed during the war. With so many other priorities, the local population could not afford to look after their teeth and what medical facilities and equipment they did have were outworn and outdated.
Together with a team of volunteer dentists, Dr. Kiladjian brought modern supplies and helped implement a screening program focused on prevention and proper dental hygiene. Hand in Hand now operates six fully staffed clinics in the region, including a mobile unit and a women’s health center, located in the capital of Stepanakert. The organization has also partnered with the Artsakh Ministry of Health to regularly host day, week, and month-long Brush-a-Mania events in schools and kindergartens to introduce proper oral hygiene habits to young children, helping to foster a healthier lifestyle and eventually a higher quality of life.
In the fall of 2014, Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan personally recognized Kiladjian’s efforts, presenting him the Medal of Gratitude for his services to the Republic of Artsakh.
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