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Agency Pulls Out of Turkmenistan

Agency Pulls Out of Turkmenistan

Rebuffed in its efforts to implement antituberculosis programs, Doctors Without Borders has withdrawn from the former Soviet state of Turkmenistan.

"Medical needs in Turkmenistan are still high, and there is a good reason for us to work here. However, our project proposals have been repeatedly rejected, which does not leave us with a lot of choice but to close down," says Frank Dorner, director of the organization.

TB is a particular problem in Central Asia, and Doctors Without Borders was interested in targeting multidrug-resistant tuberculosis there. Organization officials said MDR-TB accounted for more than 20% of newly diagnosed cases and 33% of cases that have not responded to previous treatment.

"Taken at face value, these resistance rates indicate a deeply alarming situation," DWB official Christoph Hippchen says.

Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov, Turkmenistan's president and a former health minister, has reversed some poor policy decisions of the previous administration, including reopening some closed hospitals. But the moves are inadequate, and Turkmenistan still faces a severe shortage of services and personnel, say international health officials.

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