U.S. Embassy works with Armenian government to protect nation from disease
Armenia is better prepared to monitor, track, investigate, and stop dangerous viruses, bioweapons, and disease thanks to a series of labs renovated and modernized by the United States. The latest, a new centralized national joint facility in Yerevan, was opened on Wednesday, July 13, 2016, by the Minister of Health Dr. Armen Muradyan, the Minister of Agriculture Mr. Sergo Karapetyan, and U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills, Jr. The Ministry of Health’s National Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Ministry of Agriculture’s State Service for Food Safety Central Facilities are housed in the two buildings that were built and renovated thanks to funding from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency. The construction comes as part of the Agency’s Cooperative Biological Engagement Program, designed to track and secure especially dangerous pathogens in Armenia and around the globe. The efforts will strengthen Armenia’s ability to detect and monitor disease patterns in order to reduce the risk of outbreaks of dangerous diseases, whether human or animal. “The opening of this new national central facility and our cooperation with the Ministries of Health and Agriculture benefit not just Armenia, keeping this nation safe, but the larger world by helping fight the spread of disease,” Ambassador Mills said. “We know that in today’s globalized and interconnected world, diseases have no boundaries. That is why we must all work together to prevent the proliferation of bioweapons.” Along with the two updated national facilities in Yerevan, the U.S. has also recently completed the renovation of the Tavush and Shirak regional laboratories and will complete the construction of three more facilities in Lori, Gegharqunik and Syunik in 2017. All of these regional laboratories will be linked to the national central facility in Yerevan. In addition to building new labs, renovating existing labs and providing upgrades, the U.S. is providing training and equipment to support the Armenian staff working in these labs. “These new central facilities – which contain the latest equipment and meet the highest standards – along with the on-going training provided to the staff, will dramatically increase the capability of Armenia to detect, diagnose, and report disease outbreaks throughout the country,” said Ambassador Mills, who was joined at the new facility opening by Dr. Elizabeth George from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency.