BETTER TOGETHER

Kazakhstan 2015 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Tamara Duisenova, Minister of Health and Social Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan, on the Salamatty Kazakhstan program, developing the health sector, and expanding access to care.

Tamara Duisenova
BIOGRAPHY
Tamara Duisenova graduated in 1987 from the Tashkent Institute of National Economy, and is trained as an engineer and economist. From 2008 to 2013 she served as Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection. She was later promoted to Vice Minister and then acting Minister. In 2014 she was made the Minister of Health and Social Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

What have been the main developments in the Salamatty Kazakhstan program and what are its key features?

First of all, I would like to underline that the main goals of the program to improve the healthcare system have been reached. The measures we have taken helped us stabilize the situation in healthcare, decrease the level of illness and death rates, and improve main demographic indicators. The average life expectancy has gone over the 70-year milestone, and in the past five years birth rates in the country have improved significantly: 338,180 newborns within 10 months of 2014 (to compare with 305,357 in the same period of 2009). As a result of this program, an average life expectancy for many Kazakh people has been raised to 70 (an indicator initially planned for 2015), and we managed to decrease mortality rates among newborns and mothers. It all became possible because of the new model of managing and financing the department. If before the financing strictly depended on the number of hospital beds and medical staff, now it is based on payments per patient. Standardized rates for medical services are established throughout the entire country, and financing is attached to patients with particular diseases, and is directly proportional to the gravity and complexity of the illness. We have implemented the national screening program that allows us to reveal 11 illnesses that influence mortality in the early stages, and also broadened the accessibility of professional medical care at in-patient facilities regardless of their physical address in the country. New medical technologies are being developed, and last year we held over 60,000 cardiac surgeries, over 500 surgeries for organ and tissue transplants, and implemented new technologies to operate on the human brain.

Can you elaborate on the key elements that characterize your strategy of development for the healthcare sector in Kazakhstan?

At the moment we are assessing the results of the current Salamatty Kazakhstan program. This assessment is done by leading experts from WHO and World Bank. It is necessary to underline that despite our continuous success in reduction of mortality and disease rates, life expectancy rates in Kazakhstan are still much lower than in other OECD countries. The effectiveness of early detection and treatment of illnesses remains quite low, among all age groups. In addition, we are experiencing problems with staffing in the medical sector. In these circumstances the strategic goal for Kazakhstan, to be included into the 30 most developed countries in the world, development of government policy for social protection, including the rights for healthcare and proportional amount of free medical assistance; it all requires further advancements in the healthcare system.

The government of Kazakhstan is intending to provide easier access to medical care. How does the e-Healthcare system help to achieve this goal?

Access to information about medical services among the citizens, as well as increase in accessibility of medical services are one of the main priorities of the new national healthcare system, or e-Healthcare. At the moment 14 web applications are implemented all around the country, in the form of web portals. Such portals allow anyone, even today, to choose their preferred medical facility for medical check-up and treatment. It is necessary to underline that patients' access to medical facilities, be it regional clinics or national medical centers, is provided as part of free medical care. In the future, we are planning to broaden our use of information technologies in the medical care. The central link of electronic healthcare system will be the electronic health record (EHR). The EHR will contain key medical information on each patient, collected from various medical resources and information systems. It will be accessible for the patient and medical doctors providing the service. EHR will allow medical workers to monitor patient health and consider all previous medical history when making decisions.