Turkmenistan: Authorities Continue to Ignore The Spread of COVID-19

Author: turkmenyurt

Date: 16 Oct 2020

Lack of access to adequate care and resources in Turkmenistan has left both healthcare professionals and patients at risk

Turkmenistan is experiencing a spike of patients with Covid-19 symptoms despite the government’s ongoing denial of the presence of the pandemic. At present, no additional resources have been allocated towards hospitals treating patients with Covid-19 symptoms; furthermore, no new protocols have been put in place for doctors and sanitation workers. Consequently, as no adequate treatment for the patients is available this has left health care professionals incapable to treat presenting symptoms. 

Furthermore, at the forefront of the pandemic medical personnel and hospital staff still lack access to personal protective equipment while in direct contact with patients. Despite requests for additional protective gear medical personnel are provided with medical masks and gloves only if they purchase it themselves. This increases the likelihood of the virus spreading; hence, leaving a higher percentage of the population at risk. Bearing in mind the high risk of contracting the virus while in direct contact, hospital workers seen no increase in salary. Furthermore, salary has not been issued on time and no worker has been incentivized or promoted for their continued efforts.  

Turkmenistan has implemented social distancing of its community or limited the number of people in public spaces. Masks are only required on public transit which is not enough to protect the people from contracting the virus. Currently, all air and rail transport between cities has been discontinued but citizens are allowed to travel freely within their respective regions. 

Deal for Protective Gear with Russia 

Turkmenistan has signed a deal with Russia that provides protective gear for hospital personnel. In practice, Turkmenistan purchased this gear and then resold it to doctors working with infected patients. This allowed the government to accrue no additional costs due to the virus and instead place the burden on the workers themselves. The results of said agreement have not been fully implemented; however, the government in its news reported that doctors in Turkmenistan have been consulting on the treatment of Covid-19 with Russian specialists.  

How the virus is currently treated

The hospitals in Turkmenistan have no protocols regarding the treatment of Covid-19. Doctors as a way to treat the virus are prescribing a drug named Arbidol, also known as Umifenovir. Arbidol is an antiviral treatment for influenza infection. The drug itself has had little to no success in the treatment of coronavirus patients in Turkmenistan; however, that is all hospitals have been provided by the government. 

Hospitals are also experiencing a lack of oxygen and ventilator pumps. Patients who need to be provided with oxygen are essentially left without any support. Sources have stated that in order to access such care hospitals must receive a call from a higher authority. Those who have no connections within the government will not be afforded the treatments they may require. This fact in itself is more than suspicious given the government’s ongoing denial of the presence of victims of this virus in Turkmenistan.

Screening for the virus

Despite the recent visit from the World Health Organization the government has failed to implement any of the suggested directives such as routine testing, social distancing and the continued usage of masks in all public spaces. Due to the lack of screening for Covid-19, it is unknown what percentage of the population has contracted the virus. Symptomatic patients that have been admitted to hospitals are being misdiagnosed in an effort to keep the official numbers low. In order to justify the falsified reports, patients are being sent home with treatments that are completely ineffective. 

Sources claim that patients showing signs of pneumonia after receiving a chest x-ray have not received appropriate treatment.  Older patients and those with pre-existing conditions are at an even higher risk from dying from the virus, yet they receive no additional care or testing.

Lack of food in hospitals 

The food supply chain within hospitals during the pandemic has been virtually non existent. Many patients that have been admitted, due to lack of funds have little to no access to food while the hospitals do not provide food to the patients. Therefore, relatives of the patient bring the food putting themselves in danger. This also applies to hospital staff and medical personnel, most have had to go out and buy food during their shifts. This is due to the government being unwilling to increase funding for hospitals. 

Although personal costs have increased for hospital workers, their salaries remain the same. Going out to purchase food in public areas after interacting with patients without adequate protective gear only increases the chances of spreading the virus. Doctors are forced to remain at the hospitals they work at hesitating to return home out of fear of exposing their families. 

Refusal of treatment by hospitals 

Since late spring of 2020, hospitals have been refusing to accept patients with symptoms of the virus without explanation. Sources claim that a fifty five year old man experiencing Covid-19 symptoms was denied hospitalization after attempting to be admitted to a local hospital. Upon the worsening of his condition he returned to the hospital with a bloody cough and was only then hospitalized. After several days he was discharged from the hospital and sent home. He died three days later. The lack of specialized treatment, medicine and equipment in the hospitals result in further complications of the patients health, ultimately resulting in their deaths. 

As a result of a high influx of patients, hospitals took to placing the sick into the storage units of the construction company “Polimex” which were converted into medical institutions by the order of the government. These units lack the proper infrastructure to care for patients and have even less access to food and medical resources. Currently, Turkmenistan’s status is dire for those who have contracted the virus and yet the government continues to fail to implement appropriate preventive measures. 

Author: turkmenyurt

Date: 16 Oct 2020

Featured in: Covid-19 Health Care News