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Turkmen President Abolishes Free Universal Health Care


Almaty, Kazakhstan; 11 February 2004 (NCA) -- Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov today published a decree that effectively eliminates free universal health care in Turkmenistan.

The president's decree says the measures "are aimed at economising budget resources, increasing a results-oriented approach among medical institutions and to guarantee the effective use of personnel."

The decree calls for the sacking of some 15,000 nurses and hospital staff this month, and abolishes many free medical services. Reuters quoted Turkmen Health Ministry officials as saying the sacked staff -- about 15 percent of health care workers in the country -- will be replaced by conscripted soldiers.

Areas losing funding include cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, neurology, and dermatology departments, as well as diagnostic services.

The decree says the goverment will continue to fund emergency and maternity wards, and will also continue to provide free care for invalids and the chronically or terminally ill.
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