By Sona Chuli-Kuli, Red Crescent Society of Turkmenistan
For many years, the Red Crescent Society of Turkmenistan has been one of the major providers of healthcare in Turkmenistan. Through the Community-Based Health and First Aid (CBHFA) programme supported by the British Red Cross, over the last ten years volunteers and staff from the organization have been advocating for healthy lifestyles and training the population in first aid skills. Since January last year, the CBHFA programme, already implemented in 11 etrap – administrative divisions of Turkmenistan - was also launched in the province of Kunya-Urgench, in the north-eastern part of the country, with the objective of increasing first aid skills in the region.
Ykbal, a Red Crescent volunteer from the Koitendag village, says better knowledge will save live. “When there is an accident, very often people lose control, start panicking without knowing what to do, and often they just wait for the emergency service to arrive, but they cannot do anything themselves. However, they will be able to help if they are trained.”
In many cases, accidents are so serious that failure to take immediate action before the arrival of the ambulance may put the life of the injured person at risk. “That is why it is essential that every person have at least a basic knowledge of how to perform first aid, and that Red Crescent volunteers be well trained not only to apply their knowledge and skills in emergency situations, but also to transfer such knowledge to people in their community.” Ykbal says.
More than 1,000 volunteers – about one third of all Red Crescent volunteers in Turkmenistan - are currently involved in first aid training, and, thanks to their support, the programme is being successfully implemented all around the country. The activities include conferences and promotional events, demonstration lessons, quizzes, as well as sports competitions, where volunteers are engaged in conducting first aid training and distributing first-aid kits.
Since the start of the programme 10 years ago, the National Society has been working on training trainers, and through them, passing on the information to activists from local communities through the peer-to-peer education. And these, in turn, transfer first aid skills to the residents of their communities.
Through this programme, every year the Red Crescent Society of Turkmenistan reaches out to more than 24,000 people with free-of-charge first aid training sessions, and provides hygiene kits to some 2,000 families. The trainers of the project “Preparedness of Ashgabat” also hold sessions in first aid for children, teenagers and youth, for adults, for international organizations and corporate sector.
“The value of this programme goes well beyond the training of communities in our country,” says Aynabat Muhamova, coordinator of CBHFA programme. “It promotes cooperation with executive bodies and state agencies; it facilitates the strengthening of voluntary work in Turkmenistan, and this ultimately helps enhance the credibility of our National Society as an auxiliary to the public authorities in the humanitarian field.”