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RED International’s partner, Operation Mercy Tajikistan (OPM Tajikistan), seeks to work with women in villages in the Pamir mountains and particularly to partner with the health workers to increase their competence and ability to serve the needs of their patients.

Taj Khorog health

The Challenge

Khorog, the main city in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) region of Tajikistan, is nestled in the Pamir Mountains, separated from Afghanistan only by the Panj River. In the valleys and mountains spreading out from Khorog, life becomes increasingly isolated and harsh as elevation increases. Some villages are up to 3500 metres above sea level. 

With relatives sending money from Russia, women are left to work the dry land growing vegetables and wheat to sustain their families through the five long months of winter.  The cold temperatures at these high altitudes and the length of the winters do not allow for a variety of nutritious foods to be grown. 

In Khorog there is a hospital, but in the remote villages there are only small clinics – typically a room serviced by a nurse, a midwife, and a health volunteer.  These women have very limited training and little opportunity for ongoing development, and yet they carry a huge responsibility - especially when they are the sole source of medical knowledge when roads leading to Khorog and other medical professionals are closed by avalanches and mud slides.

Although Pamiri culture is close knit, there still remains a residue of the attitude towards disability with low expectations and no equal opportunities. There are local organisations working in this field but at times there can be overlap, disunity and competition.  There are some good services developing, however there are no specialists, in terms of trained rehabilitation therapists or teachers and a very low level of knowledge generally.

Our Response

OPM Tajikistan’s vision is to empower health workers and the communities with whom they work to improve health attitudes, knowledge, skills, resources, and behaviour.  They do this by partnering with communities in GBAO to explore their assets and needs in relation to health issues.

OPM Tajikistan also have a high altitude greenhouse project in the Khorog area which helps with health and nutrition as well as a wheelchair project in the north of Tajikistan supporting people with disabilities.

Potential Long Term Impact

Through community health lessons e.g. in childhood illness and prenatal health, groups of women and health workers will increase their knowledge and ability to deal with primary health issues and share their knowledge with others.

Nurses and Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) will increase their knowledge and skills in dealing with people coping with depression and grief.

£80 - Covers the transport and material costs for a series of 7 health lessons in a nearby rural village in the Pamirs.

£210 - would pay for driving lessons for our health project coordinator and give her more independence in the work reducing the need to hire a driver.

£680 - could pay for transport and material costs for two blocks of training in a remote village in the Pamirs.

£1390 - could pay for six month’s salary for our health project assistant

We're excited that we've been able to help Operation Mercy in Tajikistan set up a new donor giving page through GlobalGiving.

If you’d like to support the Khorog Health Project please click here.