Regional Director reviews development of Kazakhstan’s health system

WHO

Zsuzsanna Jakab with Nedim Jaganjac, of the World Bank, at a press conference in Almaty

Ms Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, met with Dr Salidat Kairbekova, Minister of Health, and other senior members of the Government during an official visit to Kazakhstan on 14–15 November 2012. Her main purpose was to discuss health system reform, as well as progress made in implementing the national health strategy for 2012–2020 with the Ministry of Health and development partners.

Ms Jakab took part in a round-table discussion of health care reforms on the way to social modernization. This was the final stage of the annual review of a project on health technology transfer and institutional reform of the health care system, which is jointly funded by the World Bank and the Government of Kazakhstan. The Regional Director introduced Health 2020, and highlighted its relevance and links with the national programme for health development, Salamatti Kazakhstan [Healthy Kazakhstan] 2011–2015.

Ms Jakab described the positive trends in health indicators in the country, thanks to investments in health and the health system. She said that these trends are likely to continue because of initiatives such as the introduction of cancer screening. She commended the progress made in renewing specialized health services, now saving about 30 000 lives a year, and called for finding the right balance between further investment in primary health care as a way towards universal coverage, and ensuring access to effective health interventions for all those in need. A press conference with representatives of local media organizations was held after the round-table.

During her visit, Ms Jakab also met with Mr Karim Massimov, Head of the Presidential Administration; Mr Yerbol Orynbayev, Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan; Mr Stephen Tull, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Kazakhstan; and Mr Nedim Jaganjac, Project Team Leader, World Bank.

During these meetings, Ms Jakab recognized the country’s great success in tobacco control and presented the Government with the WHO Director-General’s Special Recognition Award for its contribution to global tobacco control in 2012. She stressed that further efforts are needed to address the broader issue of noncommunicable diseases, notably through tax increases on tobacco and alcohol and strengthening of intersectoral action.

Collaboration on the meeting being prepared to celebrate the thirty-fifth anniversary of the 1978 International Conference on Primary Health Care, to be held in Almaty in 2013, was also discussed.

Dr Kairbekova thanked Ms Jakab for fruitful collaboration with and continuous support from WHO to strengthen public health and the health system in Kazakhstan.