BEST PRACTICES AND INNOVATION
Representatives of dozens of countries gathered in Ashgabat this autumn for the colorful celebration of Day of Healthcare and Medical Industry Workers of Turkmenistan. They took part in the international exhibition “Healthcare, education and sports in the era of Renaissance of the new epoch of the powerful state” and a scientific conference as part of the exhibition. One hundred and fifty foreign companies presented innovative medical technologies, new ideas and approaches to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of various diseases. The same topics as well as issues related to training of highly qualified personnel were discussed at 14 sections of the scientific conference.
However, both the exhibition and conference were above all seen as the demonstration of the success of the healthcare sector of Turkmenistan, which is currently represented by modern clinics and centers, specialized sanatoriums and medical industry enterprises, whose specialists constantly improve their skills both in the country and abroad.
Talking about equipment in Turkmen clinics and healthcare institutions, they use the high-tech equipment from leading manufacturers of Germany, France, Italy, Japan, the USA, Holland, Great Britain, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland, China and a number of other countries.
The level of development of national healthcare is one of the key indicators of the effectiveness of the whole state policy. This has become especially evident in recent years, when the world has faced serious challenges affecting not only people’s health but also the global economy. Focused on disease prevention and introduction of best practices and innovative technologies, the healthcare system of Turkmenistan has made it possible to not only maintain the stability and viability of medical care but also minimize the impact of the global crisis on the country’s economy.
It was almost 30 years ago following the adoption of the State Program “Health” that Turkmenistan started creating a fundamentally new national model of protection of health of the country’s citizens. The state program aimed to improve the efficiency, accessibility and quality of medical services, ensure sanitary and epidemiological well-being and a healthy environment and promote a healthy lifestyle.
Tremendous work has been carried out over these years that made it possible to improve the health of the population and increase the average life expectancy. About 100 medical institutions have been built and put into operation in the country, including new modern clinics of international standard, hospitals, medical centers, health houses throughout the territory of Turkmenistan. Thanks to innovative technical equipment, new healthcare institutions have been brought to the forefront of medical science and practice.
For example, a multidisciplinary hospital in the city of Turkmenbashi and a multidisciplinary oncological hospital in the city of Dashoguz were inaugurated in 2022. Two years earlier, a similar multidisciplinary hospital was put into operation in the city of Turkmenabad, the administrative center of Lebap province. These medical institutions now play an important role in providing the population living in the regions with quality medical services, using modern methods of prevention, diagnosis and effective treatment of various diseases. In the past few years, there were also opened a children’s hospital in the city of Mary, an International Burn Center and an Aesthetic Center in Ashgabat, new sanatorium “Bagabad” in Akhal province and sanatorium “Avaza” in the National Tourist Zone Avaza on the coast of the Caspian Sea.
Quality of medical care for people living in rural areas has also improved. Along with the construction, reconstruction and fitting out of medical institutions, their material security is also being improved. Other than multidisciplinary hospitals whose technical equipment is not inferior to the Ashgabat clinics, the regional administrative centers also boast ultra-modern specialized medical centers for diagnostic, maternal and child health “Ene Myahri”, children’s, oncological medical centers, emergency ambulances with helicopters for air medical service.
In parallel with the construction of modern medical centers, the system of personnel training is being developed further at the State Medical University of Turkmenistan named after Myrat Garryev, a large scientific and educational center fitted with the best medical equipment for efficient professional training and effective research activities.
There are currently about 5 000 students studying at eight faculties of this university. Students, clinical residents and interns hone their professional skills at three university clinics, such as the Scientific and Clinical Center for Eye Diseases, the Dental Training and Production Center, the Educational and Scientific Center for Maternal and Child Health.
University science is also developing. Thematic research is being carried out in various medical areas. The University Research Center, the Center for Medical Biotechnology, the Center for Sports Medicine carry out work on the basis of targeted cooperation with the Center for Technology of the Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan, the National Institute of Medicines and other universities of the country. The results of scientific work are published in scientific journals of Turkmenistan and abroad.
Broad international cooperation with leading international organizations and UN agencies is the most important component of the State Program “Health”. Over the past three decades, a number of important joint projects and programs have been successfully implemented in various areas of healthcare. The successes of Turkmen healthcare are confirmed by WHO certificates on the elimination of dracunculiasis, poliomyelitis, malaria, measles and rubella. National programs for enrichment of flour with micronutrients (iron, folic acid), as well as universal salt iodization have received international recognition. Turkmenistan is the recipient of the UN Children’s Fund award for maintaining the high status of immunization of children within the framework of the National Immunization Program fully funded from the state budget.
The country is actively working on prevention and control of infectious diseases, ensuring the sanitary and epidemiological well-being of the country’s territory, implementation of the standards of international health regulations and strengthening the capacity of Turkmenistan’s public health system.
The priorities of the national healthcare system include the introduction of advanced medical technologies and achievements of world science into medical practice, which, in turn, led to enhanced international partnerships and greater exchange of experience with foreign colleagues.
The beginning of the new millennium marked the high level qualitative growth of Turkmen healthcare based on innovative technologies and advanced methods in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases, continuous professional development of medical specialists and large-scale international cooperation with leading specialists from leading medical centers of the world.
Turkmen medical specialists regularly undergo training at leading clinics in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Russia, Israel, Japan and other developed countries. In 2022 alone, more than 160 doctors completed internships at leading scientific and medical centers in 14 foreign countries. Turkmen doctors actively participate in international congresses in relevant areas of expertise, get acquainted with new achievements of world medicine and introduce them in their work.
Speaking of the Turkmen healthcare achievements, one cannot but mention the medical industry that makes a significant contribution to protecting the health of the country’s population. It is focused on the use of local raw materials and production of environmentally friendly and competitive products. To this end, specialists of medical enterprises, the Medical University and the Institute of Medicines of Turkmenistan conduct joint scientific research.
To date, the enterprises of “Turkmendermansenagat” association of the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry of Turkmenistan produce more than 440 types of medicine, of which 345 are drugs and 95 are medical products. Most of the manufactured drugs are covered by the insurance scheme and sold to the population at a 50% discount. In terms of quality, safety and efficiency, the products of the medical factories meet the highest international standards.
The impressive development of the medical industry falls for the period of 2013–2014, when six new enterprises were built and put into operation at the same time, producing drugs and medical products, such as infusion solutions, sterile dressings, disinfectant solutions, iodine products, packaged medicinal clays and sea salt, and mineral medicinal water.
The high quality of drugs produced in Turkmenistan is evidenced by the inclusion of Turkmenistan in 2017 in the register of WHO countries that introduced a quality system. This makes it possible to export products of the Turkmen medical industry. The medical products for export include iodine sticks, mineral waters, healing clays, sea salt, bandaging material, medicinal tea and much more.
As regards the existing enterprises, they were reconstructed and re-equipped. Among them is Turkmenistan’s oldest enterprise, agro-industrial complex “Buyan” that produces licorice root and products of its processing that are exported to foreign countries. Construction of another enterprise for processing licorice root and production of glycyrrhizic acid started in 2022.
The continuous process of implementation of the State Program “Health” allows the country to achieve high standards of national healthcare and set the priority goals for development of medicine in Turkmenistan in the long term.