President Has Eye on the Family

    According to the presidential press service, in Astana on Thursday, December 24th, the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, together with Secretary of State-Minister of Foreign Affairs Kanat Saudabayev, Minister of Healthcare Zhaksylyk Doskaliyev and Astana Mayor Imangali Tasmagambetov, went on a whirlwind visit of several places around the capital city, including Asia Park, a retail and entertainment complex, as well as the openings of Karlygash, a new kindergarten, Municipal Hospital No2, and a maternity hospital. During the opening of the 150-bed prenatal facility, the President stated, “It is a great happiness to be healthy. And your service aims at ensuring the health of the population. The economy, the state’s work aimed at people's health, [is in order to] increase the number of Kazakhstanis. I have set the task to achieve an increase in the population to 20 mln people.”
    Unfortunately, this gesture of goodwill comes at the time of an ongoing scandal in Almaty regarding transfusions at Republic Blood Transfusion Center of hepatitis C-tainted blood given to an estimated 150 children with leukemia, which itself follows closely on the heals of a similar one in 2006 involving more than 130 children in the city of Shymkent being infected with HIV following transfusions in a scheme by healthcare workers there. The latter incident resulted in the convictions of 21 medical staff and officials, including Mr. Tasmagambetov’s sister, Nursulu Tasmagambetova, the former director of health care in the South Kazakhstan region, and brother-in-law, Ryskulbek Baikharashev, the former director of the committee for medical quality in the South Kazakhstan region, although they both received three-year suspended sentences.
    Despite this hiccup, foreign organizations have noted an improvement in the delivery of medical services in the country, and Mr. Nazarbayev expressed in his speech at the hospital, “The healthcare facilities have been reconstructed, equipped, [and] the doctors retrained [both] abroad and in the country.” The polyclinic The new healthcare facility includes 28 departments, with 360 beds, which are divided into surgery (205) and therapy (155). It was constructed as part of the program “100 Schools and 100 Hospitals”. Through this program, the Mr. Nazarbayev hopes to build Kazakhstani medicine into a brand “similar to Cuba.”
    Karlygash kindergarten, located on the left-bank area of the capital city, boasts a 240-student capacity, as well as planned facilities for performances and sports, according to RFE/RL, Kazinform,, Kazakhstan Today,, KazTAG,, ProMED, KTK News Agency, and IRIN News.