|Public health care is free, but people may pay
to get better medical treatment in the private system. Public health care
sometimes cannot provide basic supplies, like bandages and painkillers.
Doctors and health researchers are paid low wages. Medical equipment is
often in short supply, particularly in rural areas. Proper dental care
is often hard to find. However, children receive free vaccinations.
Sick children under 16 are treated in special clinics. Elderly people may receive care in homes for the aged, or family members may move elderly relatives who need extra care into their own homes. The average life expectancy is 68 years.
|Undulant fever (caused by drinking unpasteurized
milk) as well as tuberculosis, hepatitis, diphtheria and typhoid are among
the common diseases in Kazakhstan. The government and health care workers
are also trying to reduce smoking and alcoholism. They are encouraging
people to return to the Muslim tradition, which forbids alcohol.
The draining of the salty Aral Sea for crop irrigation during the Soviet regime has caused special health problems. People who lived nearby breathed in dust and salt from the dried-out lake bed. Chemicals used to fertilize crops found their way into drinking water. Even the food grown in the areas irrigated by the Aral Sea is low in nutrients and contaminated with chemicals from fertilizers and pesticides.
|Years of Soviet nuclear tests in the northeastern part of the country have led to other kinds of health problems. People who live near the former test site have high rates of cancer, immune system problems and other disabilities. Kazakhstanis were unaware of the dangers when the tests began during the Cold War years. The tests were stopped in 1989. Kazakhstan's government has arranged compensation for people whose health was affected.|