President Islam Karimov delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of international symposium “National Model of Mother and Child Healthcare in Uzbekistan: Healthy Mother – Healthy Child” at the newly built Symposiums Palace in the heart of Tashkent.

Following is the text of speech.

Distinguished Director General,

Dear participants of symposium, ladies and gentlemen!

I have a great pleasure to greet you, our esteemed guests, representatives of prominent international institutions – World Health Organization, UNICEF, UN Development Program and Population Fund, – heads of healthcare systems of many countries, all the contributors to this symposium, and express my deepest respect to you.

This unique building complex that has embodied the best patterns of national and contemporary architectural design and urban planning, has been commissioned quite recently and comprises two parts – National Public Library and Symposiums Palace where we are meeting at the moment. Symbolic and historic is the very fact that you, the participants of this international forum addressing the most humane and noble sphere of human activity, namely, maternity and child healthcare – are the first guests we receive in this magnificent Palace.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my earnest gratitude to You – honorable Ms Margaret Chan – and all respectable guests for accepting our invitation to attend this medium.

We are greatly honored and highly privileged that the Uzbek model of maternity and child healthcare is going to be discussed with celebrated foreign scientists and eminent specialists in the medical world. This model is a critical constituent of the nation-wide program underway in our country in population healthcare and nurturing a healthy and comprehensively advanced growing generation.

The universally recognized “Healthy Mother – Healthy Child” motto has in essence come to be a unifying and mobilizing appeal to the population. It has become a priority controlled and managed from the highest state level as much as the wider public.

To be sure, we were well aware of the fact that attaining a goal we set out was possible only with thoroughgoing reforms and modernization of the entire public healthcare system.

Today we have every reason to declare that our healthcare system continues to be built and renovated on the robust backbone that has been created during independence years.

First, a novel and unique system has been set up to provide the population with free, highly-qualified emergency medical care, a structure comprising specialized regional hospitals and branches in towns and districts meeting the highest requirements and international standards, an arrangement composed of emergency medical aid services managed and coordinated by the Emergency Medical Aid National Research Center.

Second, the 3,200 plus rural medical units established across the nation have been exceptionally vital in transforming the public healthcare system and consolidating its lower, local tier. Let me emphasize it time and again that we are not talking about village nurse staffed first-aid stations, which is the case in other countries, but units outfitted with cutting-edge medical equipment and where primary health care is provided by general practitioner doctors.

Third, healthcare institutions network at district and regional levels has been refined. Concise and soundly equipped and staffed district medical associations and regional diversified hospitals and policlinics have been instituted.

Fourth, ten national specialized applied research medical centers are currently functioning in the country based on acknowledged academic schools, including in cardiology and cardio-surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, urology, ophthalmology, phthisiology and pulmonology, endocrinology and others with the concentration of highly-qualified professionals and latest hi-tech medical service.

All these past years our efforts have been directed primarily at creating facilitating conditions for bearing and bringing up a healthy generation with an aim of longer-term effect, that is, preserving and improving the gene pool of the nation, and uplifting the expectancy of life and its quality. We quite naturally have had to carry out a tremendous work that has included transforming the psyche and consciousness of people.

In particular, in order to shape a healthy family and curtail the occurrence of potential hereditary diseases, a system of mandatory pre-marriage medical examination has been instituted.

If one looks into this issue from a wider perspective, noteworthy are the values like the moral atmosphere and ethics in society, especially in the youth environment, along with the importance attached to strengthening the family. These ideals have always been highly valued in our society and stay likewise to this day. I believe there would hardly be a necessity to prove to anyone that this factor, that is, a sound family, a sound environment in the family, is instrumental in the birth of a healthy child.

Basically all regions of Uzbekistan boast perinatal and screening centers of mothers and children. All pregnant women in rural areas are provided with state-funded multivitamins essential for forming a well fetus.

I would like to draw your attention particularly to the network of maternity and childhood modern screening centers organized within a special government program: these units have allowed us to reduce the birth of children with hereditary and congenital diseases more than 1.7 times since the year 2000.

Children under two years of age are vaccinated for free, facilitating the complete elimination of such maladies as diphtheria, tetanus, polio. Practically a hundred percent of kids under 14 undergo profound medical inspection once every two years, and fertile age women – every year.

Owing to the complex of measures undertaken in the last twenty years, maternal and child mortality in our country has decreased more than threefold. The world ranking announced by Save the Children places Uzbekistan ninth among the 161 nations surveyed in terms of government care for the health of younger generation.

Training highly qualified medical specialists is attached a critical significance in the overall healthcare reforms we have embarked on.

Medical higher education institutions currently function in Samarkand, Andijan, Bukhara, Urgench and Nukus, along Tashkent Medical Academy.

Fundamentally novel has been the organization of training medical nurses with higher education.

I would like to stress that our medical institutes work in close cooperation with leading institutions of the world like university clinics at Charite in Germany, Harvard in the United States, Manchester in the UK, Vienna of Austria, as well as renowned centers in Russia and Ukraine, major hospitals in Japan, South Korea and other countries.

I take a great delight to greet the participants of this forum and express my feelings of sincere gratitude from this high rostrum.

The immense consideration placed in our country on public healthcare has found its confirmation predominantly on the investments earmarked for advancing this sphere.

The share of national budget expenditures for healthcare makes as high as 15.7 percent and 4.1 percent of GDP.

In excess of 700 million US dollars worth soft loans and grant funds from donors have been drawn only to the consolidation of economic and technical capacities of healthcare system, to refitting with latest medical equipment.

The ongoing global financial and economic downturn notwithstanding, the funding for health sphere has grown 2.5 times in the last three years.

I would like to say literally a few words about free and paid medical service.

All primary medical care in Uzbekistan is free of charge. Likewise are the emergency and pediatric aids, obstetrics and services in treatment of a whole range of socially significant diseases, that is, oncologic, infectious and other ailments.

At the same time, we are all well aware of the fact that a modern quality medical care builds on expensive equipment – which in addition needs constant renovation – along with costly medicines, pressing thus to sensibly combine free and paid care.

Today we have every reason to assert that life has confirmed the correctness and effectiveness of healthcare model chosen by us. Let me cite just one example. We have managed to lift up life expectancy from 67 years in 1991 to the current 73, and 75 years among women.

Our experience has suggested that reforming the healthcare system ought to be a constant and uninterrupted process. Medicine, both science and practice, is perfected all along, and we have taken consideration of this truism in shaping our national healthcare model.

We are to start addressing tasks within the new phase of reforms that includes refining healthcare institutions network and outfitting them with state-of-the-art hardware. The economic and technical, research and application capacities of specialized medical centers are to be improved substantially. They are projected to turn into joint-stock companies with the introduction of incentive mechanisms for medical staff and raising their liability for end results.

Funds equaling more than 1.5 billion US dollars from various sources are planned to be mobilized to further these goals. We consider these strides crucial in boosting the wellbeing and health of the population as much as one of key indicators of our economic growth and sustainable development in society.

Dear participants of this symposium!

I am confident the outcomes of our current meeting will in the end serve to further the Millennium Development Goals. Since an opportunity to live a long and healthy life for every person is a principal indicator of human happiness.

Let me note in conclusion that it is primarily the knowledge, experience, professionalism and mastery of thousands of medics – physicians and nurses, scientists and specialists – all those who endow people with health and save lives through their tireless and selfless labor, that has been the foundation of all our achievements in healthcare that we take a rightful pride in.

There are two professions from the Lord, so to speak. One such occupation is teacher, the other is doctor. Devoted to their noble job and displaying the uppermost of human qualities every day, doctors are model for us all in disinterested service for the high ideals of humanism.

Again, from this high podium I would like to express my sincerest gratefulness to you and all other representatives of this gracious trade. I wish you fruitful work, pleasant stay in the hospitable land of Uzbekistan, a robust health and every success in your activities.

Thank you for attention.

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Today: 02.07.2020
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