Elena Panova: UN supports the commitment of the Government of Turkmenistan to invest in the healthcare system (Interview)

Exclusive interview of Trend AMI with UN Resident Coordinator in Turkmenistan Elena Panova


– Turkmenistan attaches great importance to cooperation with the United Nations. The results of joint actions are very clear. What are the main factors for such a successful interaction?


Cooperation between the UN and the government of Turkmenistan has always been focused on providing support in resolving national development challenges. The UN is a strategic parнаглядноtner of Turkmenistan in the implementation of the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


As is known, in 2015, Turkmenistan fully supported the new global program for sustainable development and the commitment to implement the Sustainable Development Goals. As a result of our joint work, the Government of Turkmenistan approved 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 137 targets and 174 indicators that made up the national 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


The main achievement is that the country has laid a solid systemic basis for achieving the SDGs by creating a national coordination mechanism – the National Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, which is entrusted with the task of implementing and monitoring progress in achieving the SDGs in the country. The Government of Turkmenistan also included the Goals and Tasks of the 2030 Agenda in the National Program of the President of Turkmenistan for Socio-Economic Development for 2019-2025, adopted on February 1, 2019. The UN renders all possible assistance to Turkmenistan in achieving the approved Sustainable Development Goals in Turkmenistan.


One of the vivid examples of our cooperation is the preparation of a Voluntary National Review on progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda in Turkmenistan. The country presented its first report on achieved successes at the High-level Political Forum in frames of the UN ECOSOC meeting in July last year in New York. Great progress has also been made towards the creation of a National SDG database in line with international standards, in the development of which the UN Office in Turkmenistan has provided tremendous support.


In addition, I would like to note that the UN has signed with the Government three strategic Memorandums of Understanding aimed at accelerating the achievement of the SDGs:


1) SDG data aimed at strengthening the statistical capacity of the country;


2) Financing the SDGs in order to implement the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and mobilizing finance to achieve sustainable development;


3) Emergency preparedness in order to strengthen national coordination in preparedness and response. The signed Memoranda of Understanding provide a solid foundation for the UN country team to use internal and external resources to better support the government in reaching the 2030 Agenda.


It should be noted that since 2005, our bilateral cooperation with the government of Turkmenistan has acquired a systemic character and UN activities in Turkmenistan are carried out as part of a five-year framework program in priority areas of development for Turkmenistan.


On March 14 of this year, we, together with the government, signed a new Cooperation Framework for 2021-2025, which aims to deepen mutual partnership to enhance joint action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in Turkmenistan.


The framework cooperation program aims to achieve a level of development of the country and society that will further bring Turkmenistan closer to realizing its vision of a prosperous, inclusive and sustainable state. It is expected that, with UN support, the country will achieve significant success by 2025 in achieving its national development goals, corresponding to the SDGs, within the framework of the following three strategic priorities:


– management focused on the interests of people and the rule of law;


– inclusive, green and sustainable economic growth;


– quality, inclusive and affordable health care, education and social protection.


A distinctive feature of the new Cooperation Framework is the development of a comprehensive partnership. Particular attention will be paid to building partnerships with civil society and the private sector, whose innovative potential will be useful to achieve the goals of the Framework for Cooperation. The UN strategic partnership with financial institutions and banks will help create conditions for stimulating entrepreneurship and attracting foreign direct investment. The UN in Turkmenistan will continue cooperation with national partners in the field of human rights, namely with the Interdepartmental Commission of Turkmenistan to fulfill international human rights obligations.


I am sure that the main factors of such successful interaction are a high level of trust, openness and mutual support in implementing programs to ensure peace, security, sustainable development and human rights.


– A large-scale report on the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic and ways to overcome the crisis, presented on March 31 by the UN Secretary-General, determined the directions in which the international community should focus its efforts. How will further cooperation between Turkmenistan and the UN be built taking into account these directions?


On March 31, the UN Secretary-General presented a large-scale report on the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic and ways to overcome the crisis. He determined the direction in which the international community should focus its efforts – it is necessary to stop the spread of the virus as soon as possible.


In this context, I also want to note that the Government of Turkmenistan, together with UN organizations, has developed a draft national Plan for the preparedness and response to coronavirus infection.


The main objective of this Plan is to prevent the spread of infection in the country.


I am pleased to report that this plan was also presented to international development partners, including international financial institutions, which welcomed its development and expressed their readiness to support its implementation.


This discussion allowed us to determine the availability of existing financial resources to mitigate the social and economic impact, as well as to emphasize the importance of coordinated and effective common actions in responding to coronavirus infection. I hope that the plan will be approved by the Government of Turkmenistan and soon we will begin its joint implementation.


The head of the UN stated the need to reduce the social and economic consequences of the pandemic and suggested how this could be done.


In response to the UNSecretary-General’s call, the UN Office in Turkmenistan came up with the initiative to create a joint working group on the socio-economic impact of the pandemic, which was supported by the Government of Turkmenistan and the composition of the Turkmen side was approved.


It should be noted that the issue of the socio-economic impact of the pandemic is a priority on the agenda of the Government of Turkmenistan. The President of Turkmenistan gave specific instructions to develop measures to reduce the negative impact of the global crisis on the economic situation in the country. The goal of the joint working group is to study the possible socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable groups in the country, as well as to discuss and develop a joint action plan aimed at mitigating such an impact. The joint working group will consider possible UN assistance in implementing such measures in accordance with the global appeal of the UN Secretary General to assist UN member states in mitigating the socio-economic consequences of COVID-19.


The first meeting of the working group was held on April 21 this year, where UN representatives and national partners discussed the results of a preliminary analysis of the possible socio-economic impact of COVID-19 in Turkmenistan.


It was a productive meeting. We agreed that the joint implementation of measures to mitigate the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable groups will allow us to implement the main principle of the 2030 Agenda – “Do not leave anyone!”.


We have already identified some priority areas of cooperation, such as further strengthening and improving the healthcare system, adapting fiscal policies, supporting small and medium enterprises, providing targeted social protection to vulnerable groups of the population, and promoting the digitalization of the economy.


Following the results of the 1st meeting of the joint working group, an agreement was reached on interaction between UN agencies and relevant ministries and departments in the development and implementation of a package of measures to mitigate the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable groups in Turkmenistan,


It should be noted that a number of UN agencies that do not have representative offices in the country will also be involved in the work of the Joint Working Group, such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the International Labor Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.


We also agreed that at the next meeting of the working group, already with the participation of interested international financial institutions, in early June this year, UN agencies and relevant ministries and departments will present their proposals on specific joint measures aimed at mitigating the socio-economic impact of the global pandemic in the country .


An agreement was also reached with the Department of Digital Diplomacy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the creation of a subgroup to promote digital solutions. The subgroup will study in more detail and propose possible digital solutions, including for joint implementation. As many experts in the world mention  today, after a pandemic, digital solutions will become even more relevant, since a pandemic will affect people’s behavior and their voluntary tendency to social distance. It is assumed that those sectors of the economy that are founded or include elements of digital solutions will recover and develop faster than other sectors.


The Secretary-General calls for thinking about recovering from the crisis and creating an enabling environment for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.


I want to inform you that we have already proposed to the Turkmen side a number of joint measures in the framework of this area. The main ones are:


– Development of a comprehensive financial plan for the recently signed Framework Program for Cooperation in the Field of Sustainable Development for 2021-2025;


– Conducting, together with the Ministry of Finance and Economics of Turkmenistan, an international seminar on financing the Sustainable Development Goals at the end of May this year, which will lay the foundation for the development of an integrated national SDG financing system;


– Providing support for the establishment of the National SDG Database; and


– development of constructive cooperation with the interdepartmental commission of Turkmenistan on the implementation of international obligations in the field of human rights and humanitarian law.


– The government is making great efforts to prevent dangerous infectious diseases, using all the necessary state structures and resources to protect the population. How do you rate these aspirations?


The UN in Turkmenistan supports the government’s commitment to invest in the healthcare system, as it is crucial for the country’s sustainable development.


However, today the world is faced with an unprecedented test. The pandemic caused by the spread of the COVID-19 virus has endangeredthe achievement of a global healthcare system.


It also identified the need to strengthen government systems for the integrated and coordinated response to the challenges arising in connection with the global crisis.


We acknowledge that throughthe operational measures taken by the Government of Turkmenistan in the early stages to prevent the development of COVID-19 in Turkmenistan, there are currently no registered cases of the virus.


We welcome the decision of the Government of Turkmenistan to conduct a general medical examination of the population. This is also what the World Health Organization calls for – to ensure the continuity of health services, including immunization, wherever possible.


On April 3, the UN General Assembly adopted the first resolution since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which calls for global solidarity in the fight against coronavirus infection. I am glad that Turkmenistan has also become one of the sponsors of the resolution. Thus, the country emphasized its proactive stance in the fight against the pandemic through a series of decisions to protect the health, safety and well-being of its people.


In conclusion, I want to quote the UN Secretary General António Guterres:


“Everything we do during and after this crisis should have a clear focus on creating more equitable, inclusive economies and societies that will be more resilient in the face of pandemics, climate change and many other global challenges that we face.”

(By: Lyman Zeynalova)

Sursa: TURKMENISTAN – May 3, 2020;  https://www.trend.az/casia/turkmenistan/3233600.html