It is truly a pleasure to pen a few words as I commence my assignment at the WHO Country Office in Kazakhstan. The health and wellbeing of all people are at the heart of WHO’s mandate, commitment and day to day work – and I seek to reflect those ideals in all that I do as well.
Kazakhstan has a proud history as a leader in global health, as the birthplace of the historic Almaty Declaration of 1978, and the Astana Declaration on Primary Health Care in 2018 – both of which will be celebrated later this year, as Kazakhstan hosts the 73rd Regional Committee for the WHO European Region, WHO’s highest decision-making body in this vast and diverse region that encompasses 53 countries across Europe and Central Asia.
Almaty is also a host for the WHO European Centre for Primary Health Care, which provides technical assistance to all 53 member states – recognizing that primary health care is indeed a cornerstone of public health.
Since becoming a sovereign nation in 1991, Kazakhstan has made significant progress in improving the health and well-being of its population, supported by the rapid development of its health workforce.
WHO is proud to have been part of that journey, ever since we established our country office in 1994.
As I begin my new role in this dynamic and progressive country, my priorities for the WHO Kazakhstan Country Office are threefold.
First, to continue to support Kazakhstan via technical cooperation on a range of priorities, including primary health care; emergency preparedness and response; immunization; the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs); the promotion of mental health; innovations in digital health; tackling anti-microbial resistance and emerging infectious diseases through the One Health approach; strengthening maternal and child health; and better addressing the health implications of how we as people interact with the environment.
Second, maintaining WHO’s position as a trusted partner in public health in Kazakhstan through continued strong relationships with stakeholders including the highest levels of leadership of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Health and affiliated organizations, academia, civil society, media, international agencies and the donor community.
Third, supporting Kazakhstan’s position in the recently launched WHO Roadmap for Health and Well-being in Central Asia, as a proud leader and collaborator within the region for inclusive and sustainable health systems.
Ultimately, no man is an island. I believe that the greatest asset, the greatest enabler, I have in achieving these goals are people. The WHO team in Kazakhstan is experienced, multi-disciplinary and dedicated. Our country office colleagues have truly performed an outstanding job over the years, and with the support of our Regional Office in Copenhagen and our Headquarters in Geneva we will go from strength to strength.
I am truly grateful for this opportunity and I look forward to deepening the ties between WHO, the wider United Nations family and the Republic of Kazakhstan – to benefit all those who call this country their home.
The author is Dr. Skender Syla, the World Health Organization (WHO) Representative and Head of Office of the WHO Country Office in Kazakhstan.