International staff: 4
National staff: 20
MSF's work in Turkmenistan is twofold. A traditional medical support program combats the spread of tuberculosis (TB) in the northern part of the country as part of MSF's Aral Sea program (see Uzbekistan). MSF also has a regional logistics office in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat, to serve the needs of MSF missions in Central Asia and Afghanistan.
The medical program focuses on controlling and treating TB using the DOTS (Directly Observed Treatment Short Course) method. In August 1999, the program was launched in Kunya-Urgench in the northern region of Dashoguz, which has the highest rate of TB in the country. A few months later, another pilot project began in Turkmenbashi. Both are carried out in collaboration with health authorities at all levels.
By July 2000, 367 patients had been registered in the DOTS program in Kunya-Urgench, with 93% achieving an early positive response to the treatment. The 336 patients registered in Turkmenbashi had a positive response rate of 86%.
Based on these results, the authorities agreed to extend the DOTS strategy to Dashoguz city. In July, health workers closely involved with DOTS treatment received training in the city's central TB hospital. Thirty-five doctors were trained. Seven were trained as trainers, with responsibility for supervising DOTS in their respective districts.
In addition, 118 nurses and seven lab technicians received training, through tailor-made teaching materials such as videos and practical exercises. This was followed by the official opening of the city's "DOTS for ALL" program in Dashoguz at the end of July.
Around the same time, the Ministry of Health and MSF signed an agreement to expand the DOTS strategy to the entire Dashoguz region.
A regional logistics office for Central Asia
The MSF office in Ashgabat also plays the role of regional logistics office. Its main purpose is to serve the freight and practical needs of various MSF missions in Central Asia and neighboring Afghanistan. By July 2000, 87 tons of drugs and equipment had been dispatched from Ashgabat to the field.