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Thursday, 17 April 2014

Medicine and Kazakhstan

In the Western Kazakhstan regional capital city Aktobe this week with speakers on medical research from Switzerland, Italy Azerbaijan and Russia, joining local researchers for a  well-organised conference and series of Masterclasses for staff and students, hosted by Rector Bekmukhambetov. First a direct flight from London for an overnight stay in the old capital Almaty, with its snow-covered mountains. A Canadian captain provided the tannoy welcome on a new jet for the transfer to Aktobe, 2000km to the East. Aktobe was emerging from a winter of
White wagtail in central Aktobe
temperatures down to -35 deg C, still mounds of snow and ice in the shadows,
a dusty breeze from the Steppe, buds  on the trees, and sparrows and white wagtails enjoying warm April sun.  

The Medical School in Aktobe, one of 5 in the country, has benefited from major recent investment in local hospitals and supporting equipment. Primary
Delegates at a Therapeutics Masterclass
Coronary Intervention for relevant acute coronary syndromes, complemented by acute thromobolysis for patients in transit from remote areas,
mandatory HPV immunisation from the age of 13, outstanding neonatal intensive care provision, and advanced rehabilitation facilities, are examples of many areas of internationally competitive medical provision and practice.

Medical student presenters. Moderators seated from left: S Balmagambetova, D Singer, A Aliev
Research questions under discussion this week have included how Kazakhstan can meet the challenges and  medical consequences of the international epidemic of obesity, coping with the environmental consequences of the mineral and fossil fuel exploitation that is helping to fund the dramatic economic expansion in the country, neuropsychology in childhood, and the epidemiology and pathology of reproduction, of a range of cancers, and common and serious diseases of the cardiovascular system, the eye, and brain. External speakers discussed a range of internationally relevant topics, including advances in prion disease, new methods for early discovery of new beneficial and harmful targets for drugs, dealing with Multi-Drug Resistant tuberculosis, and new ultrastructural methods for identifying ageing in human oocytes.

Addressing these important questions for this huge and sparsely populated country - around 17
Local and international faculty at the Conference
million inhabitants in an area the size of Western Europe - will be further enabled with continued financial support made possible by the valuable natural resources in Kazakhstan,  and a new and expanding graduate researcher programme, strengthened by an increasing range of international academic research collaborations. 

There are major opportunities for further strengthening of clinical academic systems from increasing partnerships with international health-related organisations and new opportunities for external partnerships with agencies involved in drug regulation, in developing clinical management guidelines, and in other important aspects of health policy.

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