We bring to your attention the story of our compatriot Bahargul about healthcare in Turkmenistan (name changed for security reasons).
“My son has been sick since he was young. While we were in the hospital, he was given a blood transfusion, after which he became infected with hepatitis "B". Subsequently, hepatitis "B" turned into hepatitis "D". At the age of 3 he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and began to be treated with hormones. Every year he was in the hospital and treated, but still his temperature periodically rises, blood comes from his mouth and nose. Then the doctors said that I needed to apply for disability. But at the commission they answered me: “We have hundreds of thousands of patients with hepatitis and why should we give disability because of this?”
When the son reached conscription age, they wanted to draft him into the army. Thank God, the draft board doctor turned out to be a good specialist; after examining my son, he said: “They don’t have the right to draft him into the army.”
Over the years, the tests worsened, but the diagnosis of liver cirrhosis remained. We went to Ashgabat. There they refused him treatment, saying that there were specialists locally. In connection with my son’s illness, I saw that there are a lot of patients in the country not only with hepatitis, but also with other diagnoses. It turns out that we have diseases that doctors do not treat due to their incompetence.
I wanted to take my son abroad for consultations with specialists. But I just can’t get permission from the emergency commission (to combat the spread of diseases). We tried, but they demanded $3,000 from my son. Then I learned that the authorities should help such patients with currency conversion, but this is not being done either.
At the moment, my mother is sick, she also needs to be treated, but in Turkmenistan it is not possible. I hope the God will help me get my son out, and then my mother, with God’s help...
Another example: a friend of mine and his wife fell ill with Covid-19 last year. They were treated with high doses of antibiotics and both recovered. But on the one hand they treated him, and on the other they crippled him: after 6 months, the man was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. They demanded $4,000 for the treatment of cirrhosis. Where to get that kind of money?
Believe me, there are a lot of such people. I also have a friend whose both kidneys have failed. He undergoes dialysis every week, it’s time for a transplant, a donor has been found. But they also don’t trust local specialists, so they wait for the borders to open.
In Turkmenistan there is a slogan “Döwlet adam üçindir”, that is, a state for the people. But this is only in words."
Comment from a doctor of the highest category who left Turkmenistan before the pandemic:
In general, it is possible not to start hepatitis before cirrhosis of the liver. But we do not have much of what is used abroad to treat patients with hepatitis* and other diseases in Turkmenistan. For several reasons. Due to the closed nature of the country, due to corruption and, of course, due to the fact that Arkadag (Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov) led the Ministry of Health and the country for many years, therefore everything related to medicine is taboo for us. We have no right to talk about shortcomings, even if it is a proposal to improve the healthcare system. Only praise of anything and everything is welcome.”
*In world practice, chronic hepatitis is treated with medication. Infectious forms require long-term use of antiviral or antibacterial drugs. Medicine does not stand still, and with it pharmacology. Every year, new methods of treating such diseases are introduced into practice using new glucocorticosteroid drugs to restore the liver, dehydration treatment and the use of anticonvulsants.
Turkmen Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights