Healthcare in Kazakhstan



A recent US$117.7 million World Bank loan granted to Kazakhstan ushers the country into a rosier future in terms of healthcare.

The loan promises to uplift the Kazakhs into a new era that makes international standards of healthcare achievable through its Ministry of Health and other health care-providing organizations.

When the Soviet Union crumbled in 1991, Kazakhstan was one of the republics that were thrust into independence, but with a deteriorating healthcare system. Health services were essentially free, but the grueling period in the nation's history made everything acquire a price of its own that was often heftier than afforded. In 1989, doctors were fast becoming less in number and so were hospital beds and technical experts. Because of this, hospitals had to keep their focus on providing outpatient care that resulted in less than positive effects for the Kazakhs who needed more intensive medical treatment.

Today, the Health Sector Technology Transfer and Institutional Reform Project is giving Kazakhstan a whole new world to look forward to in terms of providing security to its citizens. Because the country is highly dependent on the foreign job market, expatriates have also been given a special place in the project, which is only at the beginning of many significant improvements to come.

The program is primarily devoted to the quality, financing, education and information systems of healthcare for the nation's 15 million residents. Specifically, there are seven focal points of the program: health financing and management, healthcare quality improvement, reform of medical education and medical science, health information system development, pharmaceutical policy reform, food safety and World Trade Organization accession, and project management.

Although the program aims to impact mainly the healthcare sector, it is envisioned to drive the nation into general public reforms. It is spurred by the belief that a healthier population will ultimately bring about a higher level of productivity among its citizen and expatriate workers.

Health reform leaders plan to achieve their goals with the creation of an independent accreditation system that will evaluate compliance with healthcare quality control guidelines by building a pool of trained and competent staff and assessors, developing and enforcing medical practice regulations and making a culture out of maintaining international standards in the provision of health services.

On the other hand, the private healthcare industry is effectively augmenting expatriates' needs with a range of policies that look into their specific requirements, especially for those who work under hazardous conditions. Services typically include claims and emergency advice as well as a directory listing of all hospitals and healthcare institutions, consulates and embassies in the country. Expats are also kept informed about the latest trends and news to put them in a better position, as they strive to maintain good health and ensure productivity not just for themselves, but for their families as well.

Compared to earlier years, expatriates can now expect significant improvements in the delivery of healthcare in Kazakhstan, specifically on the quality of service provided, financial transparency and availability of intensive medical treatment as a departure from a period when lack of hospital resources confined Kazakh health services to outpatient care. Not everything is in a sterling performance as of the moment, but everything seems to be leading there.



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