Turkmenistan’s Health Ministry has signed a $20 million deal with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to fight the COVID-19, despite the country’s authorities still denying the presence of the coronavirus infection in the country.
The agreement has been signed for the implementation of Turkmenistan’s COVID-19 Response project financed by the World Bank to reinforce the country’s response and preparedness to the pandemic.
“With a budget of $20 million, it is expected that the activities within the project will help the country respond and prepare for COVID-19 pandemic focusing on strengthening the national testing and treatment capacities, upgrading the skills of medical workers, procuring of reagents, medicines and medical equipment, and addressing the related health and social risks,” the UNDP said in a press release on September 21.
The project will support the realization of the Preparedness and Response Plan of Turkmenistan to Acute Infectious Disease (CPRP) implemented in partnership with the UN Agencies in Turkmenistan, which identifies joined preventive and response measures to combat the novel coronavirus.
“We are honored to be part of this important life-saving initiative to help the country to strengthen its health sector capacities in view of the global pandemics,” said Natia Natsvlishvili, UNDP RR a.i in Turkmenistan.
According to the media reports, the epidemiological situation in Turkmenistan has sharply deteriorated in late August.
“Hospitals are overcrowded, cemeteries do not have time to dig graves to bury people, and prices for antiviral drugs have risen many times,” the report by Chronicles of Turkmenistan reads.
However, the Turkmen authorities continue claiming that no cases of coronavirus infection have been detected in the country.
On September 21, the representatives of Turkmenistan’s civil society published a joint appeal to World Health Organization and its Regional Director for Europe, Hans Kluge, in connection with this situation, requesting to clarify the organization’s position on this issue.
“In July 2020, after lengthy coordination with the Turkmen government, WHO representatives were allowed into the country. But Turkmenistan’s authorities deliberately arranged a program for the WHO that, unfortunately, did not enable them to draw objective conclusions about the true COVID-19 situation in the country,” the letter said.
The letter also urged the WHO “to make an official, public appeal to the government of Turkmenistan to fulfill their promise regarding testing of samples from patients in Turkmenistan in independent laboratories.”