A multi-disciplinary team of WHO experts has completed a week-long mission to Turkmenistan to work with government authorities on ways they can fortify their health systems preparedness, particularly in light of the global pandemic emergency, the United Nations office in Turkmenistan said in its Monday press release on the results of the mission.
Dr. Dorit Nitzan, Regional Emergency Director for WHO/Europe, who led the mission said “during our visit, we were keen to highlight the evolving nature of the pandemic throughout the Region due to the spread of the delta variant. We also drew attention to the emergence of new variants and the spread seen globally, even in countries with high vaccination coverage”.
The mission was decided during the visit of Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, to Turkmenistan, with priorities identified in discussion with the Minister of Healthcare and Medical Industry and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. These included health diplomacy, emergency preparedness, epidemiology and surveillance capacity, digitalization and innovation, as well as regional health initiatives, such as the development of a health roadmap for central Asian countries.
The team combined expertise in emergency preparedness and response, non-communicable diseases, environment and One Health, epidemiology and surveillance, health data and information systems, digital health and innovation. Working together with Turkmen experts, they were able to make recommendations, based on sound data, scientific evidence and the experience of other countries in the European Region, according to the UN’s statement.
An important highlight of the mission was the discussions with teams from the Ministry of Healthcare and Medical Industry and the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection on strengthening sub-regional capacities in bacteriology and virology, based on the One Health Principles. The mission also looked at how virus genetic sequencing capacities could be set up to help with the detection of COVID-19.
Besides supporting Turkmenistan’s preparedness for COVID-19, the WHO experts visited several medical facilities to provide advice in other areas including non-communicable diseases, tobacco control, and health information systems.