Tajikistan in central Asia is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters due to its mountainous terrain, geology and climate – causing floods, mudslides, avalanches and earthquakes that can displace large numbers of its people.
The country also shares an almost 1400 km border with Afghanistan, which recently has seen a deteriorating security situation that could prompt many of its citizens to leave the country and seek refuge in Tajikistan and other neighbouring countries.
Being prepared for these eventualities and being able to meet the basic health needs of displaced people is something the Tajik authorities are taking very seriously.
With support from WHO, a new health point has been opened, situated in a temporary refugee settlement in the border district of Jaloliddin Balkhi in Khatlon region. Anybody hosted in the refugee settlement, which can accommodate up to 500 people, can receive basic screening and check-ups, as well as other essential health services, such as immunization. The health point will function as a first point of care, with patients referred to health facilities in the district for more serious health needs.
The creation of the new health point was made possible through close collaboration with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and is part of much wider efforts in Tajikistan to strengthen both emergency preparedness and response.
Following his 3-day visit to the country and attending the opening of the health point, Dr Gundo Weiler, Director of WHO/Europe’s Division of Country Support, Emergency Preparedness and Response, said: “I congratulate Tajikistan on their efforts to prepare for a wide range of possible future emergencies, making provision for internally displaced people, as well as refugees seeking protection in the country. The opening of the health point underlines what can be achieved when country authorities work together in collaboration with other development partners”.
WHO’s role in Tajikistan
WHO is leading on the coordination of emergency preparedness activities in Tajikistan, as they relate to health, and is working closely with other United Nations agencies, as well as local and international nongovernmental organizations. As part of this, WHO is actively identifying any gaps in Tajikistan’s planning for emergencies and optimizing partners’ skills and resources to help address these.
WHO is also investing in the preparedness of host communities, for example, in this case helping build the capacity of local health-care facilities to receive referrals from the refugee settlement health point. Together with the government and other partners, WHO plans to carry out simulation exercises, which will help the local authorities prepare for a potential refugee influx.
In addition to these measures, WHO has procured emergency medical kits for Tajikistan. Each kit is sufficient to treat 10 000 people for a variety of diseases and injuries over the course of 3 months.
Source : WHO