DUSHANBE / GENEVA (31 May 2012) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Anand Grover, urged* the Government of Tajikistan to raise health expenditure up to international standards, and “urgently develop a progressively funded, comprehensive healthcare package to ensure universal access to health care for all.” Mr. Grover welcomed the Government’s commitment to improving health financing in the country and embracing necessary reforms.
“Increasing expenditure on health should be of the utmost priority to realize the right to health of all the people in Tajikistan, where the primary healthcare system remains underdeveloped and underfunded,” Mr. Grover warned at the end of his first mission to country -from 24 to 31 May- to assess issues related to the realization of the right to health, including specific human rights dimensions of health financing, tuberculosis, and mental health care.
The human rights expert expressed concern about the low prioritization of mental health in Tajikistan and its negative impact on the realization of the right to health of persons living with mental illness. Pointing to the inadequate funding for mental health, which is only about 1.5% of the total health expenditure that constitutes 2% of GDP, he urged the Government to substantially increase funding for mental health.
“Stigmatization of persons with mental illness is perpetuated in Tajikistan by the registration of persons who receive treatment in mental health facilities. The details of the registration are shared with employers, education institutions and other state agencies and, in some cases, result in discrimination in access to employment and education,” Mr. Grover noted. The UN independent expert called on the authorities to review the registration system to assess its impact on the availability and accessibility of services and facilities for persons living with mental illness.
Commending the Government’s consideration of adopting a national mental health programme, he encouraged it “to move towards community-based treatment for persons suffering from mental illness in line with international standards and ensure that those persons receive appropriate mental health care, medication and community support”.
Mr. Grover, who is charged by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor the implementation of the right to health, met with Government officials, members of Parliament, medical practitioners and representatives of international organizations, development partners and civil society.
During his eight-day visit to the country, at the invitation of the Government, the expert
also assessed health facilities, prison hospitals, mental health centres and specialized clinics for people suffering from tuberculosis (TB) and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).
The UN Special Rapporteur will present a comprehensive report on his visit to Tajikistan at a forthcoming session of the UN Human Rights Council.
The Special Rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to help States, and others, promote and protect the right to the highest attainable standard of health (right to health). Anand Grover (India) is co-founder and Director of the Lawyers Collective HIV/AIDS Unit and the Senior Counsel in India.
(*) Read the full end-of-mission statement by the Special Rapporteur: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=12200&LangID=E
Learn more about the mandate and work of the Special Rapporteur: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Health/Pages/SRRightHealthIndex.aspx
OHCHR Country page – Tajikistan: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/TJIndex.aspx
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