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New Kazakh Health Minister, Governor Appointed

PRAGUE, September 20, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev today appointed Anatoly Dernovoi as his new health minister.

Dernovoi takes over from Yerbolat Dosaev, who was dismissed earlier today for his negligence in dealing with an HIV epidemic in the Southern Kazakhstan region.

The governor of that region, Bolat Jylkyshiev, was also sacked today for similar reasons. He was replaced with Umirzak Shukeev, the mayor of Astana.

Fifty-five children and one adult have tested HIV-positive and at least four infants have reportedly died of AIDS in Southern Kazakhstan since May.

Health officials believe nonsterilized syringes or transfusions of contaminated blood may be to blame for the epidemic.

Addressing a Security Council meeting in Astana today, President Nazarbaev said he would give his government three months to draft a new national anti-AIDS program.