ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan – In celebration of International Child Protection Day on June 1, the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry, in partnership with UNICEF, hosted a major conference designed to strengthen child health and nutrition efforts within Turkmenistan. The conference was held in order to announce the launch of the newly implemented National Strategy for Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (MNCAH) for 2015-2019, which is designed to provide material support to high-risk population groups and improve the national healthcare system of Turkmenistan.
Development officials have praised this new strategic plan for solidifying the dedication of Turkmenistan’s government in pursuing the advancement of child welfare. This new program was initiated after UNICEF officials called upon Turkmenistan to work towards meeting recently established recommendations and goals provided by the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Muhammed Ergeshov, Head of the Preventative and Treatment Department of the Ministry, stated in an interview, “The strategic maternal and child health issues will be addressed by comprehensive strengthening of the entire health system. This will include enhancement of the health leadership and management, capacity of medical cadres, information system and quality of services in accordance with international standards.”
Turkmenistan has demonstrated significant advances in combatting child health and malnutrition adversities in recent decades. This includes the accomplishment of reaching Millennium Development Goal 1 in 2000 after successfully decreasing the proportion of citizens whose income was less than $1 per day by over 50 percent. In response to the rapid achievement of this goal, Turkmenistan has implemented a new national target of reducing, by a factor of three, the proportion of citizens receiving income less than 50 percent of the monthly national average income by the end of this year.
Between 1998 and 2003, the proportion of citizens living on an income of less than $2.15 per day was reduced from 7 percent to 0.6 percent, tangible evidence that the initiatives undertaken by the Government of Turkmenistan thus far have proved effective in reducing economic factors commonly associated with the prevalence of child health deficiencies and malnutrition in Turkmenistan.
Turkmenistan has also demonstrated notable successes in the reduction of infant mortality rates, recording a statistical reduction in 2000 2.2 times lesser than in 1991. In 2010 Turkmenistan reported that child mortality rates per thousand had been recorded at 23.2, a numerical figure which confirmed the additional achievement of Millennium Development Goal 5. Turkmenistan is also close to achieving Millennium Development Goal 8, as the implementation of a National Immunization Program has worked to reduce the prevalence of tuberculosis by one third between 2000 and 2015. The program has recorded tremendous success, with the occurrence of tuberculosis per 100,000 citizens decreasing 1.5 times between 2000 and 2010.
The nation of Turkmenistan is currently working towards achieving a recognized position within the international community of developed nations and has demonstrated strong efficacy in the implementation of welfare and health initiatives designed to provide targeted social assistance to vulnerable population groups.
– James Miller Thornton
Sources: UNDP, UNICEF
Photo: Inter Press Service