New data registry in Tajikistan raises awareness about birth defects

A USAID-supported national registry of birth defects in Tajikistan, the first of its kind, will help the government create policies to prevent and treat congenital malformations and improve medical care for mothers and children.

As deficiencies in folic acid during pregnancy are a major contributor to congenital disorders, the registry will also raise awareness around the need to fortify wheat flour with folic acid and other essential micronutrients.

Every year, an estimated 2,500 children in Tajikistan are born with congenital malformations such as spina bifida and Downs Syndrome. Until 2015, there was no single process to register and record these cases.

Working with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), with USAID’s support, Tajikistan’s Ministry of Health and Social Protection of Population developed the national registry of birth defects in collaboration with the National Center for Health Statistics and Information.

The database can record up to 100 different types of congenital malformations and inherited diseases included in the International Code of Diagnosis. It will allow government agencies to assess the prevalence of birth defects and to design programs aimed at preventing and treating congenital malformations in children based on the information it provides.

Data is collected by the National Scientific and Clinical Center for Pediatry and Children’s Surgery and fed into the database of the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan, which has asked the Ministry of Finance to fund research on early diagnosis and treatment of congenital and genetic disorders in children. The Government has now allocated some 500,000 Tajik Somoni (approx. 63’300 USD) to conduct this research, which will be  led by the National Scientific and Clinical Center for Pediatry and Children’s Surgery in collaboration with the newly formed National Centre for Medical Genetics.

In January, a workshop was held for medical statisticians in Dushanbe to introduce them to an updated statistical form that better tracks congenital disorders. Six workshops will be held throughout Tajikistan for 160 health specialists. .

This effort supports the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future, as well as the global Scaling Up Nutrition movement that  unites partners including governments, civil society, donors and the private sector in a collective effort to end malnutrition.

Investing in essential vitamins and minerals in Tajikistan

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Published 1 March 2017