Turkmenistan approves national policy and strategic and operational plans for health-care laboratory services

Two and a half years’ work bore fruit at the end of March, when the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry of Turkmenistan (MoH&MIT) endorsed the national policy and strategic and operational plans for health-care laboratory services.

Supported by the MoH&MIT, WHO/Europe’s Better Labs for Better Health (BLBH) initiative and the WHO Country Office in Turkmenistan, national laboratory experts began the process of drafting the policy and plans in November 2015. In early 2016, the MoH&MIT officially committed to the BLBH initiative and established the Turkmenistan National Laboratory Working Group (NLWG), which comprises leading laboratory experts in various fields (clinical diagnostic, sanitary–chemical, microbiological, radiological, toxicological and other laboratories), as well as representatives from other interested ministries and agencies directly related to public health issues (veterinary laboratories, the Turkmen State Medical University, the state standardization agency – Turkmenstandartlary, and the Centre of Technologies of the Academy of Sciences). BLBH’s intersectoral approach helped optimize the development of a comprehensive policy document reflecting the One Health concept.

Since its establishment, the NLWG has held several workshops and meetings to build consensus on improvements in Turkmenistan’s laboratory services. At these events, laboratory experts, supported by BLBH’s expertise, have analysed the current situation of Turkmenistan’s laboratory services, conducted a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis for the 10 main aspects of laboratory services, and formulated the basic principles for the development of the laboratory services –in the form of policy statements, strategic objectives and the development of the operational plan for 2018–2020.

The MoH&MIT’s approval of the policy and plans was the result of these activities. To mark the conclusion of this important step forward, on 30 March 2018, the Public Health and Nutrition Centre hosted a national meeting for laboratory specialists from the national, central and regional levels, together with NLWG members and representatives from other ministries and agencies involved in the implementation of the policy and plans.

The policy and plans have taken into account the principles and strategies embodied in:

  • Health 2020, the European health policy framework
  • the International Health Regulations
  • a One Health approach
  • the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.