The WHO has wrapped up its ten-day consultative mission to Turkmenistan. A briefing was held on Wednesday (15 July 2020) in Ashgabat to inform the diplomatic community and the media about the outcome of the visit.
The WHO and Turkmenistan later conducted an online briefing for the international media.
Dr. Catherine Smallwod, the senior emergency officer of the WHO Europe office was the head of the mission that visited Turkmenistan from 6 to 15 July 2020. During this period the mission inspected the healthcare facilities in several provinces and held meetings with the healthcare and other officials.
Ms.Smallwood highlighted the central message – Even though there are no registered cases in Turkmenistan the country should continue taking measures as if Covid-19 were circulating.
She made some observations and recommendations:
- The Covid-19 has, directly or indirectly, affected every country in the world.
- This is a new virus and we are still learning about it.
- The risk for every country is very high.
- We need to be flexible in our approach.
- Turkmenistan is the only country in the WHO Europe region with no registered cases of Covid-19.
- Turkmenistan recognizes the risks of Covid-19 and has invested in preventive measures.
- We have made some strategic recommendations to Turkmenistan that include desirability of additional measures, prevention of transmission, further strengthening of healthcare safety regimes, isolation of suspected cases and tracing of their contact circle, and reporting of any unusual cases.
During the online briefing Ms. Smallwood said tha the Central Lab of Turkmenistan had carried out more than 60000 tests for Covid-19. She added that the lab has all the necessary equipment and qualifications for conducting such tests.
The remarks of DPM Rashid Meredov (foreign affairs) and Nurmuhammed Amannepesov, the minister of healthcare and medical industry of Turkmenistan confirmed that Turkmenistan was already taking steps that would have been taken if the Covid-19 were circulating in the country.
DPM Meredov said, “We do not exclude the influence of natural factors on the distribution of hazardous substances, including viruses. Especially dust and salt storms from the bottom of the Aral Sea.”
The healthcare minister Amannepesov said that the government was concerned about the air masses formed in the environmental disaster area of Aral Sea basin.
He said that a fresh batch of medicines and medical supplies has been received from abroad to strengthen the prevention and treatment capacity of the healthcare sector.
The contaminated air that Meredov and Amannepesov referred to, affects the upper respiratory tract. This has happened in the past too when the vapours arising from the Aral Sea are scattered across the region by strong winds. The symptoms and effect are identical to the behavior of Covid-19.
Without getting bogged down by the technicalities, there is the need to look at the complete picture. Turkmenistan has already taken the steps that would have been taken in the presence of Covid-19:
- Wearing of masks is mandatory in all the public places.
- Hand sanitizers, nose gel, and anti-bacterial wet wipes are available free of cost at the entrance of every market, shop and office.
- The media is educating the people about the importance of wearing masks, exercise of social distancing, and natural methods of building immunity.
- The air in some areas has been disinfected through aerial sprays.
- Temperature of visitors is measured at the entrance of every shopping centre, and entry/exit points of urban areas.
- Intercity train service is suspended for ten days.
- Intercity bus service is suspended for ten days.
- Some major shopping centres are closed for ten days.
- Some banquet and weddings halls are closed for ten days.
- People are encouraged to stay home.
- Mobile vans of healthcare services are visiting remote and rural areas to provide medical masks and sanitary supplies at subsidized rates.
- The cargo at all the road, rail, and air points is fumigated and disinfected before entering the territory of Turkmenistan. /// nCa, 16 July 2020
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Here is the press release issued by the ministry of foreign affairs of Turkmenistan:
On July 15, 2020, a briefing was held in the premises of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Turkmenistan upon the results of the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe consultative-technical mission’s visit to Turkmenistan. As is known, Catherine Smallwood, Senior Emergency Officer at WHO/Europe is heading the given mission.
The heads and representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, Ministry of Healthcare and Medical Industry of Turkmenistan, Ministry of Agriculture and Nature Protection of Turkmenistan, State Committee for Water Management of Turkmenistan, heads of foreign diplomatic missions and representations of the international organizations working in Turkmenistan, the representatives of the national mass media of Turkmenistan, as well as foreign journalists accredited in Turkmenistan participated to the briefing.
During his speech at the event, Minister of Healthcare and Medical Industry of Turkmenistan N.Amannepesov highly appraised the work done by the WHO/Europe mission in Turkmenistan and voiced the results of the latest session of the Governmental Commission on Combatting the Acute Infectious Diseases which took place on July 12 of the current year. The Minister voiced the practical actions implemented in regard to further strengthening of preventive measures aimed at the counteraction against the acute dangerous diseases in the country. This information was also visually presented through video.
Then the Head of WHO Country Office in Turkmenistan Paulina Karwowska gave a speech. She expressed gratitude to the Turkmen side for assistance in organizing the WHO mission’s visit and highlighted the efforts of the Government of Turkmenistan on consolidating the actions in combatting the global pandemic.
The head of the given mission, Catherine Smallwood shared the outcomes of the ten-day work done in Turkmenistan, during which the experts visited various medical institutions, points of entry, laboratories in the regions and in the capital of the country, met with the medical personnel, got acquainted with the activities in the area of epidemiological surveillance. She stated that Turkmenistan remains the only country in the European region of WHO, where no cases of diseases evolved from the COVID-19 were registered. Therefore, it is necessary to continue to strengthen the preventive measures adopted in Turkmenistan, she added. Thus, the WHO experts shared strategic recommendations on the elevation of the level of preparedness and response measures in case of COVID-19.
Then the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredov made an address. He expressed gratitude to the expert mission of WHO for constructive work, recommendations and proposals which added to the practical measures adopted by Turkmenistan on the prevention of the spread of new type of coronavirus. The key and leading role of WHO in coordinating the actions of the international community in combatting the COVID-19 was underlined.
R.Meredov noted the necessity of taking into account all the scientific researches including the impact of environmental factors on the emergence and spread of various types of dangerous infections. In this regard, the Aral problems and approach to it of the Government of Turkmenistan were noted. Taking into account the geographic peculiarities of Turkmenistan, it was noted about the dust and salt storms which are able to transmit the hazardous substances from the dried ground of the Aral Sea along vast territories which pose threat to the health of the human being.
Hereby, the significance of ongoing scientific researches on studying the interrelation between the levels of air pollution and special types of morbidity was emphasized. Thus, the Minister noted the start of disinfection procedures by the means of aviation for preventing the spread of pathogenic microorganisms through air and airborne droplets.
Thereupon, R.Meredov once again called for cooperation in the field of scientific diplomacy, which can contribute to the search of information on the emergence of acute dangerous viruses, as well as develop the methods and means of curing the hazardous diseases and their prevention, including the development of vaccines. It was underlined that the adherence of Turkmenistan to these goals is reflected in the fact that the country has joined the C-TAP Platform and other WHO mechanisms.
In her speech, the UN Resident Coordinator in Turkmenistan Elena Panova noted the high level of cooperation of Turkmenistan with all the UN structures. Emphasizing the importance of the Preparedness and Response Plan of Turkmenistan for Acute Infectious Diseases developed jointly with the UN, E.Panova stated the necessity of reducing the social and humanitarian impacts evolved from the pandemic.
In the end of the briefing, the parties expressed the need of continuing joint work for the sake of the whole humankind through solidarity and mutual support. /// MFA Turkmenistan, 15 July 2020
The briefing was held at the building of the chamber of commerce of Turkmenistan. There was also a small exhibition of the local products related to personal hygiene, personal care, and health protection.
Here are some pictures from the briefing and the exhibition:
/// nCa, 16 July 2020