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Improving The Care for Patients with Diabetic Retinopathy in Kyrgyzstan

Photo : Eyenuk

Valuable recommendations on improving the provision of care for diabetic retinopathy (eye damage in diabetes) were developed during a high-level policy dialogue on 31 January 2023 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

The WHO Country Office in Kyrgyzstan facilitated the discussion together with the Ministry of Health as part of a joint project between WHO and the World Diabetes Foundation (WDF) aimed at preventing noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) by detecting diabetes mellitus and hypertension – which may also contribute to other health complications – among the population in Kyrgyzstan. 

The event brought together representatives from the Office of the President, various ministries and the Parliament, health-care workers, WHO experts, members of professional associations and patients. They exchanged views to identify policy options and next steps for improving the care of patients with diabetic retinopathy in Kyrgyzstan. 

Diabetic retinopathy is the main cause of blindness among the working-age population in Kyrgyzstan. According to the Ministry of Health, about 75 000 people in country suffer from diabetes and there has been an increase in the incidence; the number of Kyrgyz with diabetes has increased twofold in 10 years.

“It is highly important to continue our efforts to strengthen the capacity of health systems and organizations to promote the prevention of diabetic retinopathy and to improve access to screening and treatment. WHO together with its partners will continue supporting the Ministry of Health of the Kyrgyz Republic in strengthening the health system in the country,” emphasized Dr Shahin Huseynov, Special Representative of the WHO Regional Director in the Kyrgyz Republic and ad interim Head of the Country Office.

The following key recommendations were developed:

  • provide universal access to laser treatment for diabetic retinopathy in the public sector;
  • improve the screening test for the detection of diabetic retinopathy;
  • develop a team approach to the treatment of diabetic retinopathy, including the participation of doctors, nurses and patient groups;
  • develop guidelines for the management and treatment of diabetic retinopathy.

Future steps

In the last session, the participants agreed to synchronize efforts to increase the capacity of health-care workers in applying clinical protocols for integrated management of NCDs, with a focus on diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and hypertension. The WHO–WDF joint project will further focus on ensuring patient empowerment and involvement through patient education, drawing on WHO materials and evidence-based approaches, and strengthening advocacy and policies through the facilitation of knowledge and best practice exchange with relevant stakeholders and authorities.

Source : WHO