Press Release

WHO/Europe’s high level expert mission completes in Turkmenistan to strengthen health systems preparedness

29 November 2021

  • 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.

Dr. Dorit Nitzan, Regional Emergency Director for WHO/Europe, who led the mission commented: “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”.

Focus on key areas of health system strengthening

The mission was decided during Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe visit to Turkmenistan, with  priorities identified in discussion with the Minister of Health 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, noncommunicable 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 made recommendations, based on sound data, scientific evidence and the experience of other countries in the European Region. 

Timely COVID-19 detection at the core of effective response

An important highlight of the mission was discussing with teams from the Ministers of Health and Medical Industry and the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection strengthening sub-regional capacities in bacteriology and virology, based on the One Health Principles.  In addition, the mission looked at how virus genetic sequencing capacities could be set up to help with the detection of COVID-19.

Speaking at the end of their visit, Dr. Dorit Nitzan commented: “The mission has highlighted the need to strengthen efforts to detect COVID-19. Reporting cases in a timely manner is a must, as it enables the activation of additional arms of the response: contact tracing; quarantine; provision of adequate care and appropriate case management; tailoring of measures to the epidemiological situation; surveillance and testing. All require community engagement and are rooted in transparency”.

As well as supporting Turkmenistan preparing for COVID-19, WHO experts had the opportunity to visit several medical facilities to provide advice in other areas including non-communicable diseases, tobacco control, and health information systems.

WHO/Europe’s high level expert mission completes in Turkmenistan to strengthen health systems preparedness

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