WHO Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases Certificate awarded to Turkmenistan

The high-level European conference “Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases” opened at the YYldyz Hotel in Ashgabat under the WHO aegis.

The forum, organized by the Government of Turkmenistan and the WHO Regional Office for Europe in Ashgabat, brought together the representatives and experts from the World Health Organization, delegates from 44 countries in the WHO European Region, including high-ranking officials, heads of relevant institutions, and prominent medical scientists. The specialists of the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry, a number of departments, medical and scientific centers, etc. represent Turkmenistan at the forum.

The main objectives of the current meeting are to discuss a wide range of issues relating to the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases, to agree on the further steps in this area to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, and also to analyze the effectiveness of actions taken since the First European High Level Conference on noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), which took place in Ashgabat in December 2013. The result of the conference was the adoption of the Declaration that secured the obligations to control NCDs at the international and national levels.

This time, the forum participants have to adopt a “road map” for the countries to fulfill global and regional commitments through intersectoral measures. Addressing such issues as tobacco and alcohol use, obesity, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, hypertension and diabetes is on the agenda of the forum.

The conference started with a high-level plenary session, where the welcoming Address of President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov was read out under the storm of applause.

The reforms carried out in our country allow reaching the higher level of rendering high-quality medical services, expanding the range of services based on innovative technologies, including control of non-communicable diseases. A number of strategies and programmes, implementing in Turkmenistan are aimed directly at reducing the prevalence of risk factors.

Among them are the National Action Plan for Tobacco Control for 2017–2021; the National Programme on the Reduction of the Harmful Use of Alcohol 2018-2024; the National programme for the support and development of sports and physical education for 2011-2020; the National strategy on increasing the physical activity of the population for 2018-2025; the National Mental Health Programme and many others.

According to those speaking during the forum, Turkmenistan is recognized as a leader in the fight against tobacco smoking. Thus, due to the effectiveness of the measures taken by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, the prevalence of smoking among the population has decreased by 2.5 times over the past five years. There is also a positive progress in the level of alcohol consumption - over the period since 2013, it has reduced almost twice.

At the same time, according to WHO study, the percentage of the population consuming at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day increased from 57.1 % to 72.3 % in 2018. Such large-scale state preventive measures as salt iodization, flour fortification with iron and folic acid are being successfully implemented.

During the meeting, the World Health Organization awarded Turkmenistan with a certificate for the outstanding contribution to the prevention of noncommunicable diseases. The certificate was presented to the Minister of Health and Medical Industry.

The conference continued with a session dedicated to the political commitments, adopted by countries at the session of the UN General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases, which was held in New York in September 2018. The video message of WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was presented to the forum participants. The UN representatives, heads of healthcare sectors of several countries, as well as the UN Resident Coordinator in Turkmenistan, etc. addressed those present.

The strategies for including mental health, environmental and gender approaches, promotion of healthy lifestyles on the NCD agenda were considered during the session “Study of new forms of cooperation to fulfill commitments at the country level”.

The conference included three parallel sessions: the integration of prevention, treatment and management of mental disorders and other non-communicable diseases into the health care system; the achievement of performance target for cardiovascular diseases and diabetes; the reduction of modifiable risk factors associated with unhealthy diets such as salt, sugar and trans fats.

A press briefing was held at the end of the first day of the high-level conference. It was underlined the key role of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov in bringing the Turkmen health care system up to the advanced position, that in turn played a positive role in the development of world medicine. A round-table meeting dedicated to solving the problems on NCD control to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals was held in the frames of the forum with the participation of leading WHO experts.

The forum will continue its work. Participants will discuss the potential of partnership forms and mechanisms, including UN agencies and non-governmental entities, interregional and multisectoral collaboration with the aim to achieve results at the country level, surveillance, monitoring and use of innovations in the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases and other issues.

During their stay in Ashgabat, foreign guests - conference participants are provided with the opportunity to get acquainted with the sights of the capital, the culture, heritage and traditions of the Turkmen people.