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MSF in Turkmenistan, 2006
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Turkmenistan, one of the former Soviet republics, has been ruled by President Niyazov since it gained independence in 1991. Although accurate data on the prevalence of disease and the population’s health status is very hard to obtain, it is clear the regime’s national healthcare policies and practices are resulting in unmet health needs for a large number of people throughout the country.
Magdanly, close to the border of Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, is the focal point of MSF’s work. The area is home to about 40,000 people, mostly of Uzbek ethnic origin, and some immigrants (former refugees) from neighbouring Tajikistan. MSF works in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Magdanly Town Hospital and four primary health posts in Magdanly District.
In 2005, MSF saw more than 38,000 ambulatory patients and 2000 hospitalised patients. MSF provides free consultations and drugs and supports the efforts of the hospital’s local health workers through training, equipment and the direct involvement of MSF staff. MSF teams participate in the management of infectious diseases, respiratory illnesses, neo-natal complications and conditions related to poor nutrition of babies and infants. MSF also provides materials, training and technical support to the hospital laboratory, ensuring proper medical waste management and the creation of hygienic and patientfriendly facilities. Safe blood transfusion practices are also promoted.
Ensuring reproductive healthcare
Extensive rehabilitation, especially of the water and sanitation systems, was carried out in the maternity ward and intensive care areas of the hospital in 2005. MSF devoted much attention to lifesaving efforts in the maternity ward, where an average of 75 babies are born every month. Many premature babies are now saved as a result of the MSF-initiated Intensive Care Baby Room.
The Magdanly project was expanded in 2005/2006 to include maternal healthcare: ante-natal, delivery, and post-natal care, and assistance to hospital staff in the management of prevalent female pathologies, gynaecological conditions and obstetric complications.
Through its reproductive health activities, MSF increased efforts to raise awareness about the prevention, recognition and management of a variety of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). HIV/AIDS — the existence of which Turkmen health authorities have difficulty acknowledging — also has MSF’s specific attention.
In September 2005, after four months of denied access, MSF successfully negotiated with national health authorities for permission to continue its work in primary health posts of Magdanly district. Teams are once again able to provide child, maternal and reproductive health services to the area’s rural communities.
MSF has worked in Turkmenistan since 1999.