Posted on 1 February 2010

Burul Makenbaeva, Executive Director of an NGO for Mental Health and Society

Civil society organisations are becoming more active in Kyrgyzstan through participating in MeTA. Recent developments include building stronger alliances with government officials and private sector stakeholders to carry out research on procurement processes at the local level. The results, which showed that inaccurate procurement can lead to poor quality healthcare, were shared at a MeTA Forum and have influenced key stakeholders involved in the policy and practice of procurement of essential medicines.

To begin with, NGOs received training to help understand the importance of the right to health, the right to information and the right to participation. We received support from the Ministry of Health to carry this out and created a team of experts including a doctor, a specialist on financing, a lawyer and a pharmacist with expertise in procurement and drug policies.

We held two trainings for representatives from a coalition of NGOs including those working for patients’ rights, consumers groups and human rights for children. The first training was on basic human rights, with a focus on the right to information and the right to health. The second training had a practical focus in looking at the right to participate. We learnt to analyse legislation properly and we examined the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights and the Kyrgyzstan constitution.

During the training, we invited certain officials to come and speak to us and every single person said ‘yes’, which was very positive. Members of parliament and government officials such as the General Prosecutor and an ombudsman explained about official government processes. They informed us who to contact about particular issues and the best way to contact them. The President and the Government are taking a strong approach to anti-corruption and this is evidence they are taking it seriously.

We then organised a team of people (a lawyer, an activist and a pharmacist) to carry out research on how procurement can impact on the quality of care. The Ministry of Health and regional administration gave access to official documents on procurement. Local NGO Soyz Edinenie (meaning ‘Unity’) was included as a key partner in the process.

The research found that the national drug policy is not implemented in the procurement process and monitoring does not take place. These results were fed back into the MeTA forum at the end of November 2009 and the reaction from those present was of concern. In late December a video conference was held between the MeTA Council and stakeholders in Talas including NGOs, the local prosecutor and an insurance fund manager. The NGO ‘For Democracy and Civil Society’ supported this process with equipment and high speed connections. The European Commission sponsored the equipment. The private sector publicly supported the participation of NGOs in this style of ‘procurement-watch’.

These processes, through which NGOs are able to organise research, analyse data and carry out evidence-based campaigns to improve drug policies and implementation are crucial. They are effective because of a range of stakeholders involved: experts and technical advisors who are able to provide training, government officials who are able to provide access to data and information and advice on government procedures, and the private sector who are able to provide support and increased transparency about their own activities. The political environment and policies for transparency and access to medicines for people are very important.

Categories: Key Issues, Kyrgyzstan, Private sector, Transparency

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