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Uzbekistan Puts Limits On Foreign Travel By Medical Workers

The Uzbek Health Ministry has imposed strict controls on foreign trips by the country's leading medical workers, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

The Expert Working Group, a Tashkent-based nonprofit organization, told RFE/RL that the Health Ministry issued order No. 178 on February 15, which regulates foreign travel and participation in international conferences and educational activities by Uzbek health officials, doctors, medical officers, and the heads of medical institutions.

A Health Ministry deputy director, who asked to remain anonymous, told RFE/RL that the new order aims to ensure that leading Uzbek medical officials do not give "false" information about health issues in the country and to limit cooperation with international organizations.

According to the order, Uzbek medical workers planning to go abroad -- both on business trips and private vacations -- are required to submit a written statement of purpose and must have any public speeches they might give approved by the Health Ministry.

All medical workers must also obtain ministry approval before applying for an exit visa to travel abroad, otherwise they will be prohibited from future foreign trips.

The order also requires medical workers to send a written report about their trip within three days upon returning to Uzbekistan to Abdunumon Siddikov, director of the Health Ministry's Foreign and Economic Affairs Department.

The Expert Working Group said the new order violates the constitutional right of Uzbeks to freedom of movement.