Improving healthcare in the Kyrgyz Republic

By Kasia  Kukula

Improving healthcare in the Kyrgyz Republic

The EBRD works with URFA to enhance access to medical care

Running a marathon has been on Seitek Abdulhairov’s mind for a while. But with persistent pain and numbness in his lower back sometimes preventing him from walking or sitting, it has been impossible to plan any training.

A couple of visits to the Unit – Reactiv – Farma (URFA)’s rehabilitation centre in Bishkek, the capital of the Kyrgyz Republic, later, he is hopeful that he will make a full and speedy recovery.

“Eight days into my treatment, the pain has reduced significantly,” explained Mr Abdulhairov.

“I can feel real progress as my health improves thanks to massages, acupuncture, physiotherapy and exercises that I’ve been doing here.”

Leader on the market

URFA is one of the biggest distributors of medical equipment and consumables to public and private healthcare institutions and centres in the Kyrgyz Republic.

It also provides private services, including imaging and laboratory diagnostics as well as dialysis treatments. In addition, URFA runs a small surgery and a rehabilitation centre.

The company provides 24/7 access to high-quality and affordable medical services to, potentially, 3.5 million people living in Bishkek, Osh and Jalal-Abad.

International assistance

Even more patients could now benefit from their services as they can expand thanks to a loan and support from the EBRD and its donors.

The US$ 8.4 million loan was provided by EBRD’s partner bank Demir Kyrgyz International Bank.

To mitigate the risks of the lending, the EBRD Small Business Impact Fund (SBIF)*, established to channel donor resources into developing and growing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the EBRD’s regions, provided funds for a guarantee over the loan.

The EBRD also supported due diligence of the company. And the advisory team is planning to assist with corporate governance and strategic planning. All of them are funded through the SBIF.

New medical equipment, including MRIs (magnetic resonance imagining), CTs (computed tomography scan), ultrasound and X-ray machines as well as new monitoring systems are being purchased. Additionally, URFA’s rehabilitation and dialysis centres are being modernised.

 

The EBRD works with URFA to enhance access to medical care

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Post-Soviet legacy

Before URFA was founded in 1999 by Almaz Kimsanov, there was practically no private healthcare in the Kyrgyz Republic. Now, the company employs 350 people and occupies 21 per cent of the market for MRI services.

“In Soviet times, there was only one CT in Bishkek. There were long queues, which hindered the provision of a timely assistance to patients,” said Ulan Kakishev, Head of the Diagnostic Centre in the Bishkek hospital.

“With the introduction of new equipment by URFA this problem was immediately solved.”

Healthy people, healthy country

Ensuring adequate access to medical treatment is vital for a healthy society. Advanced technologies such as MRIs and CT scans are central to people’s well-being as they help diagnose diseases more accurately and help to plan treatments more efficiently.

Those in financial hardship are able to seek some of their services free of charge.

“We provide discounts or free services for socially disadvantaged people, including pensioners, war veterans and others,” explained Almaz Kimsanov, General Manager of URFA.

In the long term, small businesses such as URFA help build sustainable and equitable health systems, vital to healthy societies.

In the Kyrgyz Republic, millions can already enjoy higher standards of patient care thanks to the company’s investment and newly acquired knowledge. This will literally translate into a “long-distance” plan for would-be marathon runner Seitek – and many others.  

*Donors to the SBIF: Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Sweden, Switzerland, Taipei China and the USA.