Mrs Lyubov Supporting medical workers in remote parts of Kyrgyzstan

In the small town of Kok-Jangak near Jalal-Abad, Mrs Lyubov heads the laboratory of the main healthcare facility in the area.

She traveled from Russia to Kyrgyzstan in 1973 to complete her medical training but never returned, finding in Kok-Jangak a little paradise offering easy access to nature and the convenience of living in a small town. After graduating, she started working in this laboratory. That was in 1981, more than 25 years ago.

Before, Kok-Jangak was quite vibrant. There were many young people, artists, writers, and even discotheques. After the fall of the Soviet Union, our factories closed, jobs disappeared, and more than half of the population left.

Lyubov stayed, and still loves it there, but things at work have become difficult. Today few young medical workers are willing to work in rural parts of Kyrgyzstan. This can make the country's effort to stem the ongoing tuberculosis epidemic particularly challenging. Laboratory tests are crucial to diagnose and treat this disease that kills nearly 400 people each year in the Kyrgyz Republic.

"There has been good progress over the years with regards to our capacity to safely test for tuberculosis, and now our work environment is very safe!"

Thanks to the support from USAID in the Kyrgyz Republic, we can work with people like Lyubov to ensure that they have the skills and an adequate work environment to effectively and safely do their job.

For example, now in Kok-Jangak all tuberculosis tests can be done in a separate and specifically designated room; a special window was built to receive biological samples; and a waste management system was put in place.

The rooms of the laboratory are simple but clean, and have the necessary equipment for testing.

To help Lyubov keep her skills sharp and up to date, we invited her to participate in a series of trainings on specific subjects such as quality management systems, infection control, and standard operating procedures.

Lyubov proudly explains how the new microscope she recently acquired for her lab makes testing easier.
Before, containers for biological samples were made of glass, had different sizes, were expensive, breakable, and difficult to mark. We now have standardized, safe, single-use, markable, and affordable containers - this is a significant improvement for us!
Mirgul recently started her training with Lyubov, providing much needed help in the lab.

Mirgul is a medical student who recently joined Lyubov to complete her academic training. Lyubov is showing her everything she knows, but it will take a couple of years before Mirgul is ready to take over the management of the lab. Only then, Lyubov says, will retirement will be an option for her.

Mirgul, hard at work, carrying out various tests in one of the lab rooms.

Medical workers like Lyubov and Mirgul are among those at the forefront of the battle against tuberculosis in Kyrgyzstan. We are supporting them as much as we can, however the challenge of finding young graduates to replace the retiring workforce remains particularly difficult to address.

Recent development in how bonuses can be awarded to medical teams upon the successful completion of treatment of TB patients could, over the medium to long term, offer durable solutions to this by attracting young medical workers to such locations.

Regardless, many like us will stand ready to continue the battle until tuberculosis is defeated in the Kyrgyz Republic.

At the forefront of the battle against tuberculosis, people like Lyubov are critical to one day fully defeat the disease.

The USAID Defeat TB Project is a five-year endeavor designed to reduce the burden of tuberculosis (TB) in the Kyrgyz Republic. Its implementation limits the development of drug-resistant strains of the disease, supports equitable access to quality health care for vulnerable groups, and strengthens the national healthcare system.

This publication is made possible by the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the sole responsibility of Abt Associates Inc. and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.


Photos by Olivier Le Blanc

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