By the time Saidburkhan, a traditional healer from a small Uzbek town in the Ferghana Valley, arrived at work on a recent autumn day, his private clinic specializing in herbal medicine was packed. Three blocks away, a government-run hospital was empty – most doctors and nurses, under pressure from local authorities, were out in the cotton fields, fulfilling government harvest quotas.
If one believes official statistics, access to and the quality of healthcare in Uzbekistan has improved immensely over the past decade: Since 1999, child mortality is said to have decreased by 68 percent, and maternal mortality by 38 percent, according to official figures. In 2010, authorities announced plans to spend 13 percent of the national budget on healthcare, a significant increase. But if one actually talks to local doctors and health experts, you are apt to hear a very different story.
To read the full story