Leave no one’s health behind: EU launches health development program in Tajikistan

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According to the EU Delegation to Tajikistan, the Health Development Program was launched on March 15 in attendance of Dr. Ghafur Muhsinzoda, First Deputy Ministry of Health and Social Protection of the Population of tajikistan, Ms. Marilyn Josefson, the Ambassador of the EU to Tajikistan; Dr. Victor Olsavszky, Head of the WHO Office Tajikistan, Dr. Andreas Prothmann, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Tajikistan; and Mr. Osama Makkawi Khogali, UNICEF Representative in Tajikistan.

The Health Development Program reportedly brings together WHO, GIZ and UNICEF, to support accessibility to quality health care for everyone. The international partners will collaborate closely with the Government of Tajikistan, most notably the Ministry of Health and Social Protection (MoHSPP) and the Ministry of Finance (MoF).

“The Health Development Program is one of the important tools that will help us implement the recently adopted Strategy on Healthcare of Population of Tajikistan for the period to 2030. The Government of Tajikistan will collaborate with the international partners to achieve quality health care services and medicines are accessible to all”, Tajik Minister of Health and Social Protection of the Population Jamoliddin Abdullozoda said.

“The EU has been a leading donor in the health sector, supporting quality and affordable health services for all Tajiks for more than 10 years, by promoting evidence-based health policy and financing, and a strengthened primary care system. The global spread of COVID-19 has emphasized even more strongly the importance of investment in the establishment of strong healthcare systems that are able to prevent and respond to health crises. We are pleased to join forces with our trusted partners to work hand in hand to make sure we ‘Leave No-One’s Health Behind’ EU Ambassador to Tajikistan Marilyn Josefson said.

Public financing for health

To provide good quality care, health facilities need adequate funding for salaries of health workers as well as medical equipment. To achieve this, strong institutions and efficient financing mechanisms are essential. Furthermore, everyone should be able to seek treatment in a health facility without enduring financial hardship. To this end, the Government’s basic benefits package provides (co-)financing to the poorest households who would otherwise not be able to afford healthcare. The first component of the Health Development Program aims at improving and strengthening public financing for health in Tajikistan.

“The Government of Tajikistan and WHO will collaborate to further improve public financing for health, ensuring good health care is available and affordable to every household. The new EU-funded program allows for major strides to be made towards Universal Health Coverage in the coming years,” Dr. Victor Olsavzsky, Head of the WHO Office Tajikistan, noted.

Primary health care

Primary health care addresses the health needs of communities, integrating care, prevention, promotion and education. It improves the performance of health systems by lowering the overall health care costs while improving the population’s health and enabling access to it. A key pillar of this program is to ensure access to essential health services and safe, effective and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all people. These objectives will be achieved through promoting management skills, strengthening family medicine by providing continuous professional development for healthcare staff, and encouraging the outreach to communities to ensure health equity for the entire population.

“On behalf of the German Federal Government, GIZ has already been working in the health sector in Tajikistan for many years. We are very pleased that we can build on these activities as part of the EU Health Development Program and jointly contribute to improving primary health care in Tajikistan. Access to professional and reliable primary health care for the population is an important cornerstone for a healthy population. It means that all people have access to the basic health services they need, whenever they need them. This is a challenge that we will tackle together with our national and international partners”, Ms. Sabine Olthof, GIZ Country Director in Tajikistan, said.

Infection prevention and control

The infection prevention and control (IPC) aspect of the project will provide life-saving Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks for health workers, procurement of ventilators for treatment and care provision for COVID-19 cases, capacity building of health care providers on COVID-19 detection, treatment, and care as well as supportive policy; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), improvement and Health Care Waste Management infrastructure that meets agreed national standards. The project will target selected health care facilities across the country through implementation of activities focusing on improving the quality of infrastructure and practice of infection prevention and control.

“Poor water, sanitation and hygiene as well as weak infection prevention control lead to health acquired infections, transmission of diseases from health facilities to communities and exacerbate outbreak and spread of infections – in this case- COVID-19. Through this project, focus will be on improved IPC and quality care knowledge and practice of health workers; as well as improved awareness and knowledge on infection prevention and control at household level,” said Mr. Osama Makkawi Khogali, UNICEF Representative in Tajikistan.

Leave no one’s health behind

The funding made available by the EU will allow the implementing organizations to strengthen key components of Tajikistan’s health system. The overall objective of the Health Development Program is to ensure “Universal Health Coverage for all: leaving no one's health behind”.

Throughout the Health Development Program, the implementing organizations will develop information and resources available to inform and guide Tajikistan’s people to improve their health and to help them access the health services they need.

The EU has financed health systems strengthening in Tajikistan for more than 10 years investing over 60 million Euros to support the Government in its commitment to Universal Health Coverage. Past EU funding in the sector has contributed to the strengthening of evidence-based policy making and regulatory roles, the greater efficiency of primary health care system through better financing, improved and better equipped facilities and enhanced qualifications and skills for medical personnel. The development and digitalization of the health management information system to collect reliable statistical data was also made possible through EU funding.

Most recently, the EU supported the response to COVID-19 with 4.6 million euros that helped finance protective equipment for over 1500 frontline health workers and equip 80 hospitals with much needed ventilators for the most afflicted patients.

Building up immunization systems is a fundamental part of the work the EU does with Gavi and partner countries to strengthen health systems. Team Europe is one of the lead contributors to COVAX with over €2.2 billion, and the EU is committed to donate 200 million doses of covid-19 vaccines to low-and-middle income countries. The EU is also a key financing partner to the Global Fund, the Global Financing Facility and the Universal Health Coverage Partnership – all working toward improved access to quality healthcare services for the Tajik population.

Source: Asia-Plus