Published in SuomenAsh as a blog post on 5.2.2019
Our work in Kyrgyzstan began in 2011. The current project will continue until 2020 and will be extended to neighboring Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Filha ry’s work on lung health in Kyrgyzstan began 20 years ago at the request of the Kyrgyz Ministry of Health. Cooperation with the locals has been excellent.
One of the aims of the project is to create a network for reducing the use of tobacco products in Central Asia, where local experts play a key role. We have trained doctors and health care professionals, teachers, local government, media, and volunteers in village health committees to share information.
Health is also a respect for and respect for other people
With the project, we have learned that health is more than prevention: it is respect and consideration of others. For the Kyrgyz communality and caring we Finns should learn.
Our belief in the importance of education has been strengthened. It is possible to get the change even in conditions that are inadequate. It is our duty to share our own experiences and knowledge with those countries where things are not as good as we are.
The knowledge of local people has been touching
Our project has been very well received. The enthusiasm and knowledge of the locals has been touching. They feel they have the honor of being involved in smoking reduction and have realized its importance in maintaining health.
When it comes to the right desire to help people make better health decisions, financing or the amount of the reward is not really important. This is especially evident in village health promotion committees, where volunteers work unconditionally to promote the health of villagers.
People have had a great desire to be informed about health-related decisions. They want to know about the consequences of smoking and the possibility of change. We have noticed this both in encounters with the population and in training and discussions with local experts.
People want to know about the consequences of smoking and the possibility of change
Especially in the small villages of the countryside you will notice the communality that we are not used to. We are faced with representatives of local government, doctors, teachers, representatives of the village health committee and those who stop smoking who want to tell their story. In their discussions, they proudly present what they have done to promote the population and their own health, and to consider how they can best promote their village.
In these Kyrgyz villages, you will notice a debate that encapsulates the core of the whole project: working together to improve the health of the population.
In addition to expertise, knowledge of local culture is needed
Of course, we have also encountered clashes between cultures. Especially they relate to the ways of acting. These have confirmed the idea that, in addition to expertise, there must be knowledge of local culture in order to get the best out of your message. Our Kyrgyz project coordinator has helped here in particular.
The heat that we have encountered in Kyrgyzstan could also be called a culmination of cultures: the way to welcome a guest and take care of loved ones, even though they have a shortage of everything. The village takes care of each other. Those in Pula will be helped together, together to rejoice and together to share their sorrow.
From Kyrgyzstan we have learned about the small things of life. At the same time, we feel sad that we cannot help any more.
Specialist at Filha and works as project manager for Filha’s Central Asia lung health project.
Managing Director of Finnish ASH Association.