The American edition of The Economist annually conducts research and makes a rating of health systems in different countries of the world. The information is based on data from the World Health Organization, data from the countries themselves, life expectancy, morbidity, technology, the number of beds and hospitals and polyclinics themselves, the availability of medicine, and many other factors.
It is not surprising that the most advanced, developed, and rich countries of the world occupy the first places. The top five consist of the USA, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Australia, and Canada. All these countries scored more than 70 points out of the maximum 100. Long-suffering Turkmenistan has 31.8 points and ranks 135th. There are still many poor African and Asian countries behind, but it would be more eloquent to point out that Tajikistan, Niger, and even Afghanistan, torn apart by a 40-year war, surpassed the efforts of Ashgabat in the ranking.
Life expectancy in Turkmenistan is 69 years. This is the 136th place in the world ranking, between the Philippines and Guatemala. Why is it that a country with colossal financial resources cannot provide its citizens with a universal need for treatment?
If the medical system in Turkmenistan itself cannot provide quality services to its citizens, a trip abroad could be at least some way out of the situation.
Today there are two ways to leave Turkmenistan: to renounce the life and citizenship of this country and leave without returning, or to be evaluated by representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Health, and the Migration Service. These officials decide whether a person has sufficient justification for leaving.
Mainly, this evaluation commission allows some officials and influential entrepreneurs to leave the country. This is especially true in cases where a person is of state importance. People who need to leave for medical reasons must also get permission from the same commission.
Nevertheless, members of the presidential family and other persons in power traveled freely around the world even during the pandemic. According to the publication Turkmen. news, in early February 2022, a private plane flew from Ashgabat to Turkey, designed to transport a little girl with the one-year-old granddaughter of Berdymukhamedov’s sister on board. The child swallowed the toy, and despite the delay of local doctors with the operation, he found himself in a state of vegetative deprivation.
More and more citizens of Turkmenistan are seeking medical help in Iran. This is due to the low level of medical care in their own country. Despite the presence of many hospitals with modern equipment, there are not enough qualified doctors. Iran is becoming an attractive destination for medical tourism for Turkmen patients who are not satisfied with the quality of medical care and the lack of experienced doctors in their country. However, all this is possible only for the Turkmen elites, and not for ordinary citizens.
According to several Turkmen patients and their relatives who spoke to the Turkmen service of Radio Azatlyk, but preferred to remain anonymous, cases of medical negligence and erroneous diagnosis are common in hospital institutions throughout Turkmenistan.
“Most doctors in Turkmenistan are incompetent,” says a resident of Ashgabat, who is accompanying his uncle to Iran, where he will undergo knee surgery. — A friend of my uncle, who had a similar disease, was operated on in Ashgabat, but after the operation, his condition worsened. Now he can’t walk without crutches, although he didn’t need them before the operation.”
Another citizen of Turkmenistan, who is currently undergoing treatment in Iran, told Radio Azatlyk that he does not trust Turkmen doctors.
“Many new hospitals with modern equipment imported from Germany have appeared in Turkmenistan. But there are no specialists who know how to use this equipment,” commented a man from the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad.
According to the Turkmen population, the Government has failed to successfully solve the problem of providing the necessary number of medical specialists to provide high-quality and safe medical care. Patients are particularly wary of doctors who have been trained in medical schools in the country, as they believe that bribes were involved in their education.
The problem of corruption often begins at universities and continues after graduation, during employment. People who can offer more money or have connections often get the highest grades and the best working positions, regardless of their level of knowledge and skills.
Turkmens travel not only to Iran but also to other neighboring countries that have never been distinguished by a high level of medical care – Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Russia. This indicates that Turkmen medicine has been launched into an incredibly terrible state, although neighboring post-Soviet countries inherited the same infrastructure from the USSR, and were in the same starting conditions in 1991. The Berdymukhamedov regime surpassed all its neighbors in destroying the country on the way to its enrichment.