Daniel Stamboulian, son of Armenian immigrants, was born in Argentina April 4, 1938.
He attended High School at Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires and then completed his studies at Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA), Faculty of Medicine where he got his diploma with honors. Three years later, he completed his internship at Hospital de Clínicas José de San Martín. As paediatrician, he travelled through the rural areas of Jujuy province, where he organized the Pediatric Service “Ingenio Ledesma”.
Stamboulian obtained an outside grant from UBA to specialize in Infectology at the University of Southern California. When he completed his studies, as it was agreed with the UBA, he returned to Argentina in 1971 with the aim of applying the latest research in Infectology he had worked with in the USA.
In Argentina, his medical work began at “Policlínico Prof. Alejandro Posadas”, the British Hospital in Buenos Aires and Sanatorio Güemes.
In 1974, he launched himself into a private venture, the Infectology Center, at present called “Stamboulian Servicios de Salud” which includes a lab that specializes in bacteriology and microbiology, and an external outpatient consultation department.
With a foresight to set up an integral model to improve the areas of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of infections in Argentina, in 1987, doctor Stamboulian founded “Fundacion Centro de Estudios Infectologicos” (FUNCEI). Now, it was time to expand the services abroad, in 2001, Stamboulian founded another nonprofit organization based in Miami which focuses on Latin America and Armenia: the “Fighting Infectious Diseases in Emerging Countries” (FIDEC).
These organizations, through their different group tasks and programs, are carrying out the mission of improving a better access to the health system, promote vaccination, educate and brief children about health in schools, together with making research and prevention of infectious diseases. To settle on this task, FUNCEI and FIDEC have established bonds with ministries, scientific societies, medical institutions both state and private, companies, laboratories and other NGOs.
From a young age, Doctor Stamboulian has been passionate about communication and one of the pioneers in the production of materials and channels to broadcast topics related to health, for medical professionals and the community in general. For more than fifteen years, he has been the anchor of the television program “A Ciencia Cierta”. Together with Sossie Stamboulian, he has been managing the medical magazine “Reflexiones de Stamboulian Servicios de Salud”.
Apart from medicine and the scientific dissemination, Stamboulian’s other passion is the training of professionals. By means of FUNCEI and FIDEC, Stamboulian has renewed the program of internship in the area of Infectology: more than 100 infectious disease doctors, medical assistants, pharmacists in the area of sterilization and vaccines, including a telehealth program.
Doctor Stamboulian has also hold the office of chairman at “Sociedad Argentina de Infectología” (SADI) 1983-1986; founder of the Asociación Panamericana de Infectología (API), 1985-1986; and promoter of the Association of Certified Medical Assistants of Infectology (Asociación Argentina de Enfermeros en Control de Infecciones).
At present, apart from being head of “Stamboulian Servicios de Salud” and chairman of FUNCEI and FIDEC, Doctor Stamboulian is the head of Helios Salud and Honorary Professor at the University Medical Institute “CEMIC”, Emeritus Professor of Infectology to the Faculty of Medicine at UCES and Voluntary Professor of Medicine at Miami University.
He also participates in many scientific societies and institutions of Infectology and Pediatrics; he has also published more than 300 publications in scientific magazines both national and international.
His work has been awarded with the Merit Diploma in Biochemistry and Microbiology by the Konex Awards (1993); the medal Bicentennial of the Ministry of Health of the City of Buenos Aires (2010), and was designated Distinguished Public Figure in 2011. In 2014, Stamboulian received the Honor Mention “Senator Domingo Faustino Sarmiento” by the Congress of the Argentine Nation for his work to improve the life of humanity , institutions and communities.
Last but not least, in 2015 the FUNCEI, lead by doctor Stamboulian, received the award “Carlos Slim in Health” in the category of Exceptional Institution for its continuous and innovative work by introducing and consolidating successfully the medical branch of Infectology, and for becoming a referent in Latin America and the world.
Today we are honored to interview Daniel Stamboulian M.D.
Doctor Stamboulian, you have been for the Argentinian society and mainly for the Armenian community, “the wise advice doctor”, a professional with a long-standing career and the most authoritative voice regarding infectious diseases.
We are very concerned and disconcerted at the same time, we want to go back to our ordinary life as before the pandemic.
1.- What should we do?
The virus in 80% of cases causes benign symptoms, however social distancing, the use of masks -the N95 is the best- and the frequent washing of hands are the best steps to be followed. These recommendations decrease notably the possibility of contracting the disease.
2.-What is the impact of the COVID-19 in the life of our society and the health of the population, in terms of individuals’ mental and physical health?
The lockdown implemented at the very beginning was too long and to my understanding not so useful. We should follow the recommendations mentioned before and if you have breathing symptoms, loss of taste or smell and your symptoms falls into the category of dubious case, you must consult the doctor specialist to have your case handled appropriately.
3.- There are many labs that are still producing and experimenting vaccines, do you think that great variety of immunization may generate serious doubts in the population? Are we behind the vaccination plan? Are all vaccines effective?
It is important to have in mind that vaccines such as Pfizer, Moderna, Jansen, and in our country the one from Russia and China are very useful. What is important to know is that according to the latest publications from Lancet, the Sputnik V offers protection and coverage up to 90% , and is highly recommended for people above 70 years old.
In my opinion, Pfizer and Moderna will not arrive to private centers till July.
4.- There are many people who are in two minds as regards vaccination, because they don’t know what to do, if vaccines without the long-process testing are good or they have to wait. What is your piece of advice?
I wouldn’t hesitate to vaccinate, specially for those who are high-risk patients, who suffer from diabetes, lung diseases, or people above their 70s. As far as I know, in Buenos Aires City, there are already waiting lists and the Stadium River Plate has become a vaccination center.
5.- We receive news about the vaccine, but little is known about palliative or curative medication, what can you tell us?
It is important to consult those who are highly qualified in the area. In our city, Martin Solerno M.D. and Diego Arufe M.D. are experts who work at Mater Dei Hospital.
6.- We have isolated ourselves for danger of contagion, first it was said that children were the vectors of contagion, then teenagers, and the elders were the ones who got completely isolated… We know that Astrazeneca in Argentina is producing independently part of the vaccine. Would it be able to supply the needs of our country? Will the government contact more suppliers? Sinovac vaccine offers 50,8% coverage, is it really effective? What should we do?
In our country, the vaccines that we have at our disposal are Sputnik V, and the one from China, also a new cargo plane by Aztrazeneca made in India is about to arrive. Any of them is effective, especially for those who suffer from some health-risk already mentioned.
7.- How did you experience and currently live the pandemic Doctor Stamboulian?
We all expect, as it happened in 2002 and 2014, that it will fade away with the mutation of the virus in a benign and not agressive way, till that takes place, we must follow the recommendations given. I am in favour of the opening of schools, children don’t contract the disease so easily and the teachers, if they are vaccinated, can offer more assurance to parents and success their everyday work.
8.- Will we ever get rid of face masks? Now it is said that the ones made at home are not good… Is it true that we should wear two or with a double or triple layer cloth protection?
As I said, the N95 are the best, but the others are safe too, there is no need for many layers. So far, I think we’ll continue using them for some time.
9.- Doctor, so shall we get any vaccine? Or shall we wait?
As I mentioned before, the best action is vaccination, and the ones we have at the moment are effective.
10.- Doctor Stamboulian, your last consideration and critical thought for a society that is highly scared and hit with close cases, some of them could not make it, some who are still fighting for their lives…
We must keep on taking care of ourselves and follow the recommendations mentioned above.
Sardarabad is very thankful for your time and kindness Doctor Stamboulian.
Translation: Maria Sol Tabakian
Interviewed by sardarabad.com.ar