The Aurora Dialogues event was organized on February 26, 2021 and focused on improving the management of public health issues in at-risk communities.
The Aurora Dialogues event titled “Global and Regional Crisis Management” was organized on February 26, 2021. The first offline panel discussion of the year focused on improving the management of public health issues in communities at risk and affected by crises. The discussion took place at the Yerevan State Medical University in Armenia and featured internationally renowned humanitarian and physician Bernard Kouchner, co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières, former French Foreign Minister and member of the Aurora Prize Selection Committee, alongside with humanitarians Alain Boinet, founder of Solidarités International, and Patrice Franceschi, former Chairman of the Société des Explorateurs Français.
Welcoming the panelists, Professor Armen Muradyan, Rector of the Yerevan State Medical University, stressed the importance of the topic, particularly considering the situation caused by the global pandemic of COVID-19 and the devastating war in Artsakh in the fall of 2020. Commemorating those who were lost during that war, professor Muradyan paid tribute to the doctors who risked their lives to treat and save wounded soldiers. Some of those healthcare workers died when performing their professional duty. Before giving the floor to the speakers, Mr. Muradyan also reflected on the cooperation with the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative over the years and announced that Bernard Kouchner was awarded the title of Honorary Doctor of Yerevan State Medical University for his exceptional humanitarian actions across the globe.
“This panel discussion organized in cooperation with Aurora will be very useful to broaden the worldview our future doctors. Thanks to Aurora we have already had an opportunity to welcome here many renowned professionals, such as Lord Ara Darzi and Dr. Tom Catena, who are both honorary doctors of our university. And now, following this tradition, Mr. Kouchner, the University is awarding you the title of Honorary Doctor for your exceptional medical, social and international activities,” said Mr. Muradyan.
Expressing his gratitude for this honor, Dr. Bernard Kouchner spoke of his visit to Armenia and Artsakh by the invitation of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative. He and his colleagues were thankful for a chance to go to Artsakh and stand in solidarity with the people affected by war: “We came here to express our support to the Armenian people, to the people in Artsakh. Aurora and us, we want to work for peace and against war. It’s too late to prevent the war, but it’s not too late to make necessary efforts for peace.”
Addressing the future doctors, Bernard Kouchner said that medicine is not far removed from politics, as you frequently have to deal with the consequences of war and conflicts; however, they are not the same. Another panelist who accompanied Mr. Kouchner during his visit to Armenia and Artsakh, Alain Boinet, highlighted the nuances of the humanitarian work in conflict zones. “In humanitarian work, we have four principles: the first is humanity, the second is neutrality, the third is impartiality and the last is independence. We are not a political organization, but we are very close to politics,” said Alain Boinet.
During their visit to Artsakh, Mr. Kouchner and his delegation had a chance to take a closer look at the humanitarian projects in the region supported by Aurora, visiting medical and rehabilitation centers among other locations. After seeing the consequences of war and meeting with wounded soldiers, Patrice Franceschi, shared a message with the future doctors at the Yerevan State Medical University: “Your vocation, your job is not the same as one year ago. Your country needs you more than before. Mr. Kouchner said that politics and medicine are very close. Your critical political act will be to stay in your country [and] not to leave it. It needs you very much.”
In conclusion of the discussion, Mr. Kouchner stressed the importance of a dialogue, particularly when the situation is critical, be it a humanitarian or other issue, and noted that sometimes, solutions could be found even when they seemed impossible, praising the Aurora Dialogues as a very helpful platform.