Kyrgyzstan recognizes need to focus on health emergency preparedness

WHO/Almaz Zhumaliev

During the third Development Dialogue led by the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office with support from WHO, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on 9 April 2019, national policy-makers, government officials, experts and partners highlighted the strengthening of emergency health preparedness and readiness as one of the most critical issues for the country’s sustainable development. Recommendations from the event will be articulated in a policy paper that will coordinate and guide this work across the whole of government.

The country is exposed to significant natural hazards and has experienced conflict in its recent history. Although it has made good progress in strengthening its health emergency capacities, the country still has several areas in need of further improvement.

“Health emergencies often happen suddenly and unexpectedly. That is why we need to ensure that our health systems can deliver timely, quality health services to those in need, in a comprehensive way and on an adequate scale,” said Karatayev Madamin, Deputy Minister of Health of the Kyrgyz Republic. “These systems are especially important during emergencies, when access to quality essential health services can be severely compromised.”

Strengthening health emergency capacities and achieving universal health coverage are both targets under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 – “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”. The achievement of this Goal will also be measured by the implementation of the core capacities of the International Health Regulations. Strengthening these capacities also helps Kyrgyzstan meet other SDGs, such as reducing poverty and inequality, ensuring sustainable economic growth and promoting social justice.

Strengthening health emergency preparedness – a joint effort

During the policy dialogue, participants discussed means to jointly improve efforts in developing emergency preparedness and readiness and enhancing coordination among ministries, government agencies, health and emergency institutions, development partners, researchers and civil society to ensure better health coverage, including at the times of emergencies.

“All disasters and emergencies have one thing in common. They disrupt communities and threaten people’s health and food security. The impact of emergencies can be greatly reduced by investing in preparedness. That is why we need to work together to strengthen the country’s capacities to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from all types of health emergencies and strengthen food security. Strengthening the country’s health emergency preparedness is the responsibility of all and is a path to attain sustainable development,” stated Ozonnia Ojielo,

United Nations Resident Coordinator in the Kyrgyz Republic.

The dialogue informed a number of strategic recommendations for addressing the gaps in health preparedness and advancing Kyrgyzstan’s readiness for health emergencies.

Stakeholders agreed that to achieve sustainable health systems, the core capacities under the International Health Regulations would need to be further strengthened, with a focus on prevention, and on achieving results in close cooperation with the government and line ministries.

Background

The Development Dialogue was co-organized by the United Nations system in Kyrgyzstan, and the University of Central Asia’s (UCA) Institute of Public Policy and Administration (IPPA). This was the third in a series of 6 such dialogues.

The UN-UCA Development Dialogues series comprises 6 dialogues, organized over the course of 1 year, to initiate consultation among government, development partners, civil society, the private sector and academia on critical sustainable development subjects. The goal of the dialogues is to help break down traditional sector silos and enhance horizontal and vertical policy coherence, integration and partnerships to inform policy formulation in Kyrgyzstan. Each dialogue is designed to include presentations of thematic issues by key stakeholders, a question and answer session, and an open substantive discussion that will be translated into a thematic policy brief.