Kazakhstan: transformations to place people at the centre of health services


Kazakhstan has embarked on a long-term reform process to strengthen its health system and tackle the challenges the country is facing related to the rise of NCDs, the geographical and socio-demographic health inequalities, and the organizational barriers within the health system, to name but a few.

In building capacity to support this reform, the WHO Regional Office for Europe developed the first ‘Flagship course on transforming health services delivery to be fit for purpose for the 21st century’, which took place in Almaty from 10 to 14 February. During the very active and inter-active discussions and group works the participants succinctly identified some of the key challenges to be addressed in the country context: strengthening professional, communication and management skills of health professionals; using the recently introduced electronic health records as the basis for improved health services delivery and planning to meet the needs of people and communities; and involving patients, families and communities much more actively through public information campaigns, shared-decision making, or patient education institutions.

Additionally, the importance of involving other sectors and stakeholders, such as employers and educators, was highlighted frequently. Ultimately, all of these measures should lead to a change of values and attitudes from the professional and patient side, enabling Kazakhstan to move forward towards people-centred health systems.

The course was complemented by a Senior Policy Seminar that discussed how to improve the performance of services delivery, in particular, quality of care; also in view of implementing a mandatory health insurance and how to reduce unnecessary hospitalizations to improve efficiency by strengthening primary care. The Seminar welcomed by the Deputy Minister of Health and Social Development of Kazakhstan and opened by WHO Regional Director, was chaired by the Director of the Division of Health Systems and Public Health, Dr Hans Kluge. Together, the Flagship course and the Senior Policy Seminar united key stakeholders and providers to discuss the necessary transformations which have to take place in the Kazakhstan health system to place people at the centre of health services.

While the first edition of the Flagship course ended successfully, the opening of the WHO Centre of Excellence for Primary Health Care marks the beginning of a long-term partnership to promote people-centred health services delivery not only in Kazakhstan but in the whole WHO European Region.