2020 was a great challenge for the healthcare systems of all countries without exception. But its impact has been harshest on communities, which were already vulnerable.  These groups are more exposed to the disease and less likely to have access to quality healthcare services.

On World Health Day, marked annually on April 7, we would like to highlight our initiatives in Kazakhstan aimed at supporting the national health system.

Enhancing health care workers’ capacities in medical waste management

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the volume of medical waste has sharply increased. Immediate disposal of medical waste within the hospitals has become a necessary measure to prevent the spread of infection outside of the premises and decrease COVID-19 cases among health workers.

In 2020, UNDP jointly with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) launched an initiative to strengthen national public health emergency preparedness, focusing on medical waste management systems in the hospitals. The initiative helped design standard operating procedures for health workers and enhance their capacity to properly collect, sort, transport, dispose and monitor medical waste in hospitals.

UNDP officially handed over the equipment for the treatment of infectious waste (autoclave) to the new hospital in Nur-Sultan city, August 2020.

Furthermore, 115 healthcare workers from all regions of the country participated in online workshops on infectious medical waste management. The participants learned international experience in medical waste disposal in hospitals, acquired the skills of contact tracing, accounting, and control of medical waste transportation. Afterwards, they held information sessions among their colleagues sharing the knowledge and materials. It is hoped that the conducted workshops will contribute to the improvement of the medical waste management system and reduce the contamination risks among health workers and the population. The initiative will also contribute to laying the foundation for a sustainable medical waste management system not only under COVID-19 conditions, but also beyond.  

Transfer of the autoclave for medical waste management to the capital's hospital

In addition to online workshops, in July 2020, UNDP officially handed over the equipment for the treatment of infectious waste (autoclave), as well as containers for safe waste collection and transportation to the Nur-Sultan City Centre of Phthisiopulmonology redesigned to serve patients with COVID-19.

UNDP also arranged for the trainings on equipment operation for the hospital staff. The equipment transfer marked the beginning of sound infected medical waste disposal on the territory of the hospital, enabling to minimize the possible risk of spreading infection while handling medical waste during its transportation and further disposal.

Supply of medicines for the treatment of socially significant diseases

Since 2018, UNDP has been supporting the Government of Kazakhstan in the procurement of medicines, medical supplies, and medical equipment required for the treatment of socially significant diseases such as hepatitis C and cancer, as well as HIV prevention.

The procurement of medicines through UNDP helped to significantly save government resources. UNDP’s corporate contract with reliable suppliers provides good discounts even with the purchase of a small volume of medicine. As a result, in 2018-2020, the Government of Kazakhstan managed to save US$27 mln on medical procurement.

In 2018-2020, the Government of Kazakhstan procured over 4 million of Sofosbuvir and Daclatasvir tablets, which are used for the treatment of hepatitis C.

The medicines Sofosbuvir and Daclatasvir, used for the treatment of hepatitis C, have become the most procured medicines (over 4 million tablets). Thanks to UNDP, the procurement cost of medicines has decreased by 10 times, which allowed increasing the coverage of patients with treatment against hepatitis C. For comparison, before UNDP’s support, only 6.5 thousand people received treatment in 7 years (in 2011-2018). Due to the decreased costs, between 2018 and 2020 the number of patients receiving free-of-charge treatment increased to 28,000.

 

The Director of the “AGEP’C” Public Fund, Sergey Biryukov says that UNDP helped Kazakhstan to become a leader in the cost-effectiveness of the medicine not only in Central Asia, but globally as well – Kazakhstan ranks the third in low prices in the world after India and Pakistan. Due to reduced prices, the government obtained an opportunity to provide a free-of-charge 12-week treatment for all patients with a confirmed diagnosis of chronic viral hepatitis C. Such treatment would cost patients around $350-$400 if they purchased the medicine in pharmacies on their own.

In 2020, while the pandemic has disrupted global supply chains, UNDP's support for the procurement of socially important healthcare products has become even more important.

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UNDP supports 170 countries, including Kazakhstan, in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG 3 focuses on ensuring good health and the well-being of the population and UNDP in Kazakhstan will continue to help the country in implementation of this Goal.

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