The Republic of Belarus is one of the founder members of the World Health Organization (WHO). Since the end of the year 2001 an active membership of the Republic of Belarus in WHO has been recommenced after a long break in relations.
The legal basis for joint projects with WHO is a Basic Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Belarus and the World Health Organization “On Establishing the Technical and Consultative Cooperation”, dated May 20, 1999. It came into force on August 17, 2000.
WHO activities are focused on providing consultative, methodical, organizational and relatively small technical assistance. In addition, WHO great international prestige and authority are used to attract necessary resources for solving priority health challenges of the republic and to gain access to advanced medical technologies.
A two-year plan on cooperation with the WHO Regional Office for Europe is a basis for our joint work with WHO. The ongoing plan on cooperation for 2012-2013 with the WHO Regional Office for Europe includes the following priority areas:
- strengthening the health care system and public health protection;
- non-communicable diseases, health promotion and healthy lifestyle;
- infectious diseases, safety, public health security and environment;
- information, statistical data and research activities.
Within a two-year period the Republic of Belarus intends to work in such directions as primary health care (hereinafter - PHC), health financing, human resources for health, public health and drug regulation. The policy aimed at improving the work of PHC in urban-type settlements is under way. The National Health Accounts are being introduced and mechanisms on purchasing outpatient and inpatient services are being improved in Belarus now. In the area of human resources for health, the policy using WHO tools and systems for data collection on human resources, their analysis and forecasting needs is being revised. In addition, the country is going to improve the work on keeping health personnel through advanced mechanisms of material and non-material incentives, to start redistribution of physicians’ responsibilities to nurses and to introduce the WHO Global Code of Practice in Belarus.
In the field of non-communicable diseases the Ministry of Health is now working at creating advanced screening programmes on breast and cervical cancer; improving the country's potentialities to monitor the consumption of tobacco; carrying out a new anti-smoking campaign; creating a system for alcohol consumption monitoring; developing short-term interventions in primary health care as regards tobacco and alcohol consumption, healthy diet and physical activity, developing national information web-resource on healthy lifestyle.
Within the framework of the infectious diseases control the European Action Plan for HIV/AIDS for 2012-2015 has been adopted. The policy is subject to revision aimed at the achievement of a full-scale access to HIV prevention, treatment, and care, especially for key populations at higher risk.
The TB control is aimed at external evaluation of the national programme to fight tuberculosis; monitoring and improvement of interventions to combat multidrug-resistant tuberculosis; improvement of drug management, laboratory diagnosis to ensure the quality of the laboratory network on tuberculosis and the introduction of new technologies for early diagnosis of tuberculosis.
United Nations Development Programme
Main priorities of cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for 2012 were as follows: promoting harmonious human development, raising standard of living, supporting social programmes and mechanisms for providing social assistance.
The United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) for the Republic of Belarus for 2011-2015 (hereinafter - the Framework Programme) has been worked out. This Framework Programme has covered five areas of cooperation between the Republic of Belarus and UNDP, including strengthening the national health care system.
In order to achieve the national goals in this area the following directions have been envisaged by the Framework Programme:
- to assist in strengthening the national health system, including the improvement of the financial mechanism;
- to assist in the fight against HIV/AIDS;
- to assist in the fight against tuberculosis;
- to assist in the promotion of healthy lifestyles.
The State Programme on HIV Prevention for 2011-2015, co-financed from the grant of the Global Fund and focused on the prevention, treatment, and care of the most vulnerable groups of the population, has been approved. The State Programme "Tuberculosis" for 2010-2014, co-financed from the grant of the Global Fund, has been approved, too. This Programme gives the opportunity to meet the need for anti-TB drugs and to stabilize the level of morbidity followed by its subsequent decline.
The Ministry of Health of the Republic of Belarus and UNDP are now implementing the following three projects:
1. Introduction of the Stop TB Strategy in Belarus aimed at measures to combat multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).
Project duration: January 2011 - December 2015
The main objective of the project is to reduce the prevalence of tuberculosis in Belarus by strengthening measures to combat MDR-TB, as well as to decrease morbidity and mortality from tuberculosis.
2. Ensuring a full-scale access of key affected populations in Belarus to HIV prevention, treatment, and care.
Project duration: January 2010 - December 2014.
3. Prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS in Belarus-2.
Project duration: January 2010 - December 2015
The main purpose of the projects is a containment of HIV epidemic in Belarus in the concentrated phase and a reduction of mortality from AIDS, a creation of the favourable environment to reduce the negative impact of the epidemic by providing adequate treatment, professional skills improvement of specialists from the institutions dealing with HIV prevention, and enhancement of the national institutional capacities on the effective implementation of the prevention programmes.
The realization of the international projects on technical assistance for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS made it possible to:
ensure access of pregnant women and children to antiretroviral drugs to reduce the risk of vertical transmission of HIV;
increase access of HIV-infected patients to antiretroviral therapy;
decrease the proportion of HIV-infected patients aged 15-19 years.
Within the framework of the projects 13 points for the provision of drug-users with methadone substitution therapy and 12 points of social support have been established; the work of 33 anonymous consultation points, mobile voluntary consultation and testing points for injecting drug-users, anonymous consultations points for women involved in the sex business has been supported; 17 points of social support for persons of the correctional facilities from the institutions of confinement have been equipped; 14 informational and educational rooms for the work dealing with HIV/AIDS among young people have been established.
Prevention programmes have covered 68% of injecting drug-users, 76.8% of men who have sex with men, 85.8% of women involved in the sex business and 100% of those sentenced to imprisonment.
Public awareness on HIV/AIDS problems has risen to 88.9%.
The development and introduction of interagency communication strategy on HIV/AIDS has been an innovative step.
The establishment of 1 republican group and 7 regional groups on monitoring and evaluation, social surveys and sanitary surveillance makes it possible to identify the concealed factors contributing to HIV prevalence in the country and to obtain the evidence-based information for the development of strategies and policies in the field of HIV/AIDS
During many years the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Belarus has actively worked with the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The cooperation of the Ministry of Health with UNICEF is now being realized within the framework of the following projects:
1. Prevention of HIV transmission from mother to child/ A component of the project "Prevention and Treatment of HIV/AIDS in the Republic of Belarus-2".
Project duration: 2010 - 2012
2. Prevention of adolescent crisis aimed at prophylaxis of social exclusion and deviant behavior.
Project duration: 2012 - 2014
3. Development of an effective system of palliative care for children in the Republic of Belarus.
Project duration: 2012 - 2015
4. Regional model of interagency cooperation in the system of early assistance for children with peculiarities of psychophysical development.
Project duration: 2013 - 2014
The Ministry of Health of the Republic of Belarus highly appreciates the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in providing technical assistance for improving the quality of diagnostic radiology, nuclear medicine, and radiation oncology at health care institutions of the country. This assistance made it possible to create the modern documentary basis for quality assurance of medical irradiation exposure, to strengthen the material and technical basis of many health care institutions with up-to-date instruments of the radiation quality control, including clinical dosimeters, activity calibrators, and dosimeters to monitor a patient’s dose.
A considerable number of guidelines, recommendations, standards for the medical irradiation exposure enabling to improve the quality of postgraduate education and to achieve the improvement of radiation diagnosticians and radiation therapeutists, have been delivered to the republic by IAEA.
The project of international technical assistance "Improving Health Care System to Ensure Readiness and Response in Case of a Nuclear or Radiological Emergency with an Emphasis on Practical Skills Development", approved by the Board of Governors of IAEA is currently under way. Within the framework of the IAEA project, a support would be provided through training courses, seminars, national consultation meetings, coordination meetings, training (including probation periods at the Center of the IAEA Emergency Response), scientific visits, providing expert advice and educational materials related to IAEA publications, and the necessary standard equipment.
In 2011-2012 Belarusian specialists more than once attended the IAEA training courses, including courses on the improvement of radiation therapy as a highly effective treatment for cancer patients residing in the areas affected by the Chernobyl accident, on issues pertaining to the introduction of single-photon emission computed tomography and computed tomography; courses for radiation oncologists and radiation therapeutists; on urgent medical response to nuclear and radiological emergencies; on application of positron emission tomography in oncology, etc.