Background: Mongolia Update – Coverage of 1998 Political Changes was a one-off special edition of Mongolia Update to help explain a politically turbulent year where three governments and three prime ministers came and went. At the time, Mongolia was in the grips of a severe crisis, called one of “the biggest peacetime economic collapses ever”. By 2012, Mongolia was called the “fastest growing economy in the world”. It is proof the foundations for Mongolia’s recovery from crisis were laid in the late 1990s. The success of the peaceful transition stands in stark contrast to many other international interventions post-2001.
This is an unofficial publication of UNDP. Views presented in this document do not necessarily reflect those of UNDP. Mongolia Update is provided as a service to those who are interested in the rapid changes taking place in today’s Mongolia. A note about Mongolia Update: The Mongolia Update has proven to be one of the more popular documents produced by the UNDP Mongolia office. Since the autumn of 1997 UNDP has been able to offer two more frequently updated sources of information: the UNDP homepage and our monthly newsletter, the Blue Sky Bulletin (available from our office if you are not already receiving it). Please use the United Nations Homepage at http://www.un-mongolia.mn to keep abreast of the latest political, economic and social developments in Mongolia. Mongolia Update is an unofficial document of UNDP and is designed to periodically keep our partners outside of Ulaanbaatar apprised of issues in the country.
Divisions in the ruling Democratic Coalition Government in 1998 led to the fall and rise of three governments and three prime ministers. From the beginning of 1998 cracks within the Coalition intensified. A number of Democrats were dissatisfied with the system whereby the Prime Minister and the Cabinet were not parliamentarians, but “experts” appointed from outside and perceived to be aloof from Parliament. On January 15, 1998, after several weeks of wrangling Parliament ruled that under the Mongolian constitution MPs could serve as Cabinet ministers. It was to prove a fateful decision for the year-and-a-half old M. Enkhsaikhan Government.
A faction within the Coalition Government became more vociferous, with its complaints that the Democrat’s election promises would not be fulfilled without better coordination between the Government and the Parliament. Things came to a head when the General Council of the Mongolian National Democratic Party (MNDP) called for the resignation of its own Government. The move was led by the 35-year-old Speaker of the Parliament and MNDP caucus leader Ts. Elbegdorj – a natural Prime Minister in a Government of MPs. After a joint meeting of the ruling councils of the Mongolian Social Democratic Party (MSDP) and the MNDP, Prime Minister Enkhsaikhan handed in his resignation to Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP) President Bagabandi. The new Prime Minister, Ts. Elbegdorj, was sworn into office on April 23, vowing to chart the same economic course as his predecessor. While trying to form his Cabinet, Elbegdorj quickly ran into trouble.
The opposition MPRP was emboldened, exploiting the fissures in the Democratic Coalition. They started to launch attacks against the new Government. Elbegdorj’s attempts at forming a Cabinet were delayed as one candidate after another was rejected.
The Cabinet was not composed until May 28, when 28-year-old CH. Saikhanbileg became Education Minister – the fifth nominee put forward for the post. The new Government faced an opposition boycott of Parliament by the beginning of June, in the wake of the merging of a state bank with a private bank amidst charges of conflict of interest. On July 25 Ts. Elbegdorj and his entire Cabinet resigned after losing a no-confidence vote in Parliament. The Elbegdorj cabinet continued to work as an acting Government. The murder of prominent democrat and minister of infrastructure S. Zorig shocked the nation October 2. Poised to become a candidate for Prime Minister, Zorig was axed to death in his apartment by two assailants. The crime remains unsolved and grabbed international headlines in what had been seen as the most peaceful country making the transition from communism to democracy. In November the Constitutional Court ruled MPs holding Cabinet posts as unconstitutional. This effectively reversed the aforementioned Parliament decision of January 15, 1998. Throughout the year opinion polls showed a growing weariness and disillusionment creeping into the body politic over the political indecision.
By December a compromise Prime Minister was found, in the form of the mayor of the capital city, Ulaanbaatar. On December 9 Prime Minister Narantsatsralt took office. As 1998 turned into 1999, Narantsatralt was still trying to have his Cabinet approved by both the Parliament and the President.
External economic turmoil started to have its affect on Mongolia in 1998. Many thought the country could ride out the Asian crisis unscathed, but Prime Minister Ts. Elbegdorj admitted in June it was unavoidable. Copper prices, Mongolia’s largest foreign currency earner continued to plummet to record lows. Prices for cashmere and gold, major exports for Mongolia, also declined. The picture for the domestic economy had some bright spots in 1998, with inflation under control and an expansion in the informal service sectors. The Government’s Green Revolution campaign was able to significantly boost the production of vegetables by encouraging home gardening. The economy was still supported by foreign aid, which totaled US $205 million in commitments for the year.
Instability in Russia has also had an impact on Mongolia. For example, in May Russian coal miners blocked the Trans-Siberian train that passes through the capital Ulaanbaatar on its way to China. In August a severe benzene shortage prompted the reintroduction of rationing. At its worst all gas supplies for the country were pulled back to the capital, leaving many stranded and unable to drive cars and run gas-powered electricity generators. The delays were due to job actions by Russian workers. Russia accounts for 30 per cent of Mongolia’s imports and 13.5 per cent of its exports. On the plus side, foodstuffs from Russia became cheaper with the decline of the rouble.
Who is who in the Cabinet
Prime Minister R.Amarjargal, 38 year old Moscow educated economist. He graduated from Economic Institute of Moscow as an economist and a teacher in 1982 and earned a master’s degree at Bradford University in 1994-1995.
1982-1983, he was an instructor in Mongolian Trade Union, 1983-1990, he worked as a teacher in Military Institute, 1991-1996 has served as Director of the Economics College. He was a popular Foreign Relations Minister before resigning with the entire cabinet on July 24, 1998. A member of MNDP, he speaks fluent Russian and English.
Finance Minister Yansangiin Ochirsukh. Born in Ulaanbaatar, economist Ochirsukh graduated from the Mongolian National University and did postgraduate work at Columbia University in the United States. He worked as a lecturer and researcher at the University before moving to the Mongol Bank, where since 1997 he has been in charge of foreign exchange and reserve policy. A member of the Mongolian Social Democratic Party, he speaks Russian, English and Chinese.
Minister of External Relations Nyamosoriin Tuya, 40, was born in 1958 in Ulaanbaatar. Studied in the Institute of External Relations in Moscow, Russia in international journalism. From 1984 to1985 she studied French culture and civilisation at the Sorbon University and did a Masters degree on the ” Theory of Democracy” at Leeds University, England. Ms.Tuya speaks English and French. Married with two sons and a girl, she worked as editor of the foreign programming service of Mongolian Radio. After 1996, she was working as Head of the Department for Common Policy at the Ministry of External Relations.
Minister of Environment Sonomtserengiin Mendsaikhan, 39, was born in Ulaanbaatar, and completed degrees at the Mongolian State University and the State University of Irkutsk, Russia in mathematics. S.Mendsaikhan speaks German and Russian. Married, he has a daughter. Started his career as a math teacher at an Ulaanbaatar school, he also worked as a lecturer at the Mongolian State University and later become general secretary of the Social-Democratic Party. From 1992 to1993 he worked as a manager in the Unuudur (Today) private newspaper. From1993 to 1997 he worked as a private company director, and in 1997 he was assigned as advisor to the Parliament’s Speaker.
Minister of Defence Sh.Tuvdendorj, 32, graduated from the Army Academy of Mongolia and the Otgontenger Language School. He worked as an army officer, technician and laboratory engineer at the State Telecommunications Utilisation Committee. He started a political career in 1994, working as secretary in charge of local affairs. In 1997, he was elected as general secretary of the Mongolian National Revolutionary party.
Minister of Agriculture Choinzongiin Sodnomtseren, 46, was born in Ulaanbaatar and is married with three children.After attending Mongolian State Agricultural University, he acquired a Ph.D. in Saint Petersburg, Russia. He also has a Ph.D. degree in veterinarian sciences.
While spending many years of his career on research studies, he worked as a lecturer at the State agricultural University. Sodnomtseren became later Principal and Rector of the State Agricultural University.
Minister of Health and Social Welfare Sodoviin Sonin. Born in Ulaanbaatar in 1956, S.Sonin graduated from the Medical University of Irkutsk and Mongolia’s State Administration and Management Development Institute. A doctor and professor of medicine, he has taught surgery at the Mongolian Medical University, worked at the Central Clinical Hospital and served as a department chair at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. Since 1991 he has headed the Asian Development Bank-backed Health Sector Development project. Sonin, who speaks Russian and English, does not belong to any political party.
Minister of Infrastructure, Gavaagiin Bathuu, 39, born in Hujirt county of Uvurhangai province. Married with two sons and a daughter, he graduated from the Economics Institute of Harikof, Russia as an auto engineer and economist. He speaks Russian and English. He started his career as a repairman and dispatcher at the state auto-engineering company.From 1986 to 1992, he worked at the Ministry of Infrastructure as an officer and senior officer and from 1992 to 1996 he worked as Director of Shunklai Company. Since1996 he was working as a head of the Department for Road and Transportation at the Ministry of Infrastructure.
Minister of Justice, Logiin Tsog, 47, was born in Ulaanbaatar. He graduated from the State University in Irkutsk, and from the Social Science Academy in Russia. A lawyer with high education in politics, he speaks Russian and English. He worked as the prosecutor for the department at the Ministry of Justice. From 1988 to 1989, he worked as inspector at the Mongolian Revolutionary Party’s Inspection Committee. From 1990 to 1991, he was assigned as the Head of the Standing Committee of the State Baga Hural (parliament of that time) on legal issues. From 1991 to 1996 he was general director of the “Golden Button” Co. Ltd and in 1996 he was elected as general secretary
Minister of Enlightenment A.Battur was born in 1965 in Hovd aimag. Battur is a career diplomat who graduated from Russia’s Institute for International Affairs and completed a postgraduate course at France’s Institute for International Affairs. He worked as an attaché in the Foreign Ministry between 1989 and 1992, and spent 1992 to 1996 as the cultural attaché at the Mongolian Embassy in France-where he also worked with UNESCO- before returning to senior administrative positions at the Ministry in 1996.
A member of the Mongolian National Democratic Party, he speaks English, French and Russian and is married with two children.
A government of technocrats
By January 15, 1999 Mongolia had its first complete Government in six months. All nine members of the Mongolian Cabinet have been approved and appointed. Like Prime Minister Narantsatsralt, they are not Members of Parliament. Since all nine Cabinet Ministers were chosen for their experience, many expect a more stable course to be charted for the remainder of the Democratic Coalition’s term in office (until 2000). However, the new Government might experience the same sort of complaints the Enkhsaikhan Government received, when Parliament accused those ministers of being aloof. It is also unclear if the MPRP will continue to offer a vigorous opposition. For the time being its seems the political forces have exhausted themselves and there is a genuine desire for stability in 1999. The new Government is expected to follow the same reform directions of the two previous Democratic Coalition Governments and details will emerge over the coming weeks.
From experience, the importance of crafting a vision prior to the execution of a strategy is key to success and inspiring others. If done well, the vision can do much of the work for you. An inspiring vision will bring others on board, aligning them to your strategy. Some examples of vision leading to strategic success can be found in the following Case Studies from David South Consulting:
Red stripe is a symbol of solidarity with millions and millions of AIDS-infected, to take care after them and to join in a battle against of this disease.
Message from the Editor
“Information and education are the most powerful instruments to protect our planet from AIDS”. This quotation is found in the introduction of one of the international organisation against AIDS.
The Mongolian delegation participated in the 4th Conference on the AIDS issue in Manila on 24-29 October brought this idea back home. Mongolians admit a lack of adequate information. Therefore we have decided to publish this magazine to support efforts AIDS . Also it would be the bridge in the battle against AIDS between Mongolian Government and Mongolian people.
We would like to acknowledge the UNDP Resident Representative Mr. Douglas Gardner, Support Officer to Resident Co-ordinator, UNDP Mr. Jerry van Mourik and Mr. Nicholas Bates for the financial support and Mr. David South, Information Specialist UNDP for the initiative to produce this magazine and for their valuable professional assistance.
We also acknowledge Mr. Sh. Enkhbat, Secretary of the National AIDS Committee, Mr. H. Davaajav, Head of the department against AIDS/STD of the Infection Dicease Research Centre, Ms. Narantuya, correspondent of the newspaper “Mongol Messenger” for their encouragement and support.
Since this is our first issue, we recognise there will be mistakes. Your comments and valuable criticism are very welcome. We hope that with your assistance our magazine would have its own feature stories in the near future and we look forward receiving letters and photos from you.
We wish you good health and success in your work.
AIDS update news
According to the latest report from UNAIDS Programme a number of AIDS virus infected people has reached to more than 30 millions. Comparing with the number of infected people in 1996 – 22,6 millions it increases by 19 %.
It is said in a report that “this is much large number”.
CNN news reports that 1 out of 100 sexually active population of age from 16 to 49 is infected by AIDS virus. Only 1 out of 10 AIDS virus infected is aware of this fact.
Prime Minister called for parents to talk about AIDS hazard with children at least one time
On a World day of battling against AIDS the Prime Minister of Mongolia called for parents to talk about AIDS danger with children at least one time in order to prevent from the epidemic of this century – AIDS.
Prior to the World day of battling against AIDS a first session of the National Committee to battle against AIDS took place in Ulaanbaatar. Prime minister of Mongolia underlined in his speech on this session the importance given by Mongolia to the need to battle against this disease through a setting of National Committee headed by the Prime Minster in a full awareness of the hazard of the disease encountered by the world community:
“ International experts have identified that in nations facing socio-economic transitions there is a base for AIDS dissemination. On the other hand, although a great experience has bee accumulated by Mongolia in battling of sexually-transmitted diseases (STD,) in circumstances of this time it becomes vital to change the ways and methods of battling”.
The first session of the National Committee has advised to youth and health organizations to consider the establishing of mutual trust and understanding with the people of risk group (vulnerable group) who are vulnerable to this disease one of areas of battling activities, .as well as stressed the need for cooperation and participation of citizenry, institutions of all levels of the society.
Also the Prime Minister pointed out that since of its dissemination the “disease put on a stake the existence or collapse of a specific nation”, that’s why AIDS battling it is not a matter of health sector employees.
Prime Minster highly appreciated UN cooperation in provided support and participation to the Government of Mongolia in battling of AIDS and STD.
Government of Mongolia is to cooperate with UN in battling against AIDS
In June of 1997 the Government of Mongolia and UN organizations concluded a Memorandum of understanding to undertake joint activities in battling against AIDS, STD and Human Immuno Deficiency Virus (HIV).
At late of November the Project team was established to undertake this joint Programme. The team comprises of H. Enhjargal, National Coordinator, Nicholas Bates, Health Consultant and B. Oyun, Project staff member.
According to Enhjargal, the main objective of the Team is to coordinate health, education, media and NGOs in implementing of the Programme, to increase public participation in battling of AIDS, to change a wrong approach considering this matter a matter of few doctors and to move it to public-oriented.
AIDS battling National Committee established
By a Resolution of the Government of October 29, 1997 National Committee to battle against AIDS was set up headed by Prime Minister M. Enhsaihan; L. Zorig, Minister of Health and Social Welfare is a deputy Chair; Also Ministers of Finance, Justice, Education, Chief of Radio and TV as well as other key relevant officials.
Sub regional session took place in Ulaanbaatar
On November 11-13 1997, a consultative session of North Eastern Asian nations such as People’s Republic of China and Mongolia was taken place in Ulaanbaatar to discuss issues of AIDS. The session arranged jointly by UNDP Office Mongolia and Ministry of Health and Social Welfare discussed a project to prevent from battle against AIDS in North Eastern Asian nations. Within the frame of this UN-funded worth 400.000 US D for a duration of 3 year the activities to speed up research work against AIDS; to exchange the staff; to provide with publicity materials and to enroll into training media representatives in this area will be undertaken.
Mongolia first ever time participated in Regional Conference
Mongolian delegation first ever time participated in 4th Conference of Asia and Pacific Region nations on AIDS issue taken place in Manila, capital city of Philippines on October 25-29.
Although only one person is officially registered as AIDS virus infected in Mongolia, with regard to the following real reasons: less than 3% of total population was involved in AIDS analysis; number of STD infected people – as a basis for AIDS infection – in increasing every year; number of prostitutes and street children – as representatives of risk group (vulnerable group) is also increasing as well as a fact that in Russia and China – two actions where many Mongolians travel for business and private purposes – a number of infected people is growing the professionals are doubtful that only one person in Mongolia is infected by this virus. Therefore, it is understood that at such a crucial stage of encountered internal and external factors the participation of Mongolian delegation comprised from representatives of legislative body, ministry and NGO in Manila Conference is a sign that Mongolia is to undertake thorough battle activities against AIDS.
As soon as one is infected and the disease is spread out it requires a large amount of funds, therefore, in circumstances of Mongolia it is vital to conduct preventive training programs based on a concrete analysis and in accordance with Mongolian mentality; to undertake publicity activities about use of condom as one of most reliable way to prevent from AIDS – presented participants of the Conference.
On a press conference held as a follow-up activity of Manila Conference, Ms. B. Delgermaa, MP said:”This issue is new for Mongolian society. The Conference gave us an opportunity to learn from experience of ways of battling against AIDS and preventive measures taken by nations of Asia Pacific Region”.
Events on AIDS
THE AIDS/STD TEST
By the order of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, AIDS/STD tests were carried out among people aged 15-40 from May to October, 1997. The test have not released as of 20 November, as aimags statistics have not arrived.
According to the results of the tests carried out in Ulaanbaatar, the 84% of all people targeted to be tested have been covered in the campaign. The Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Zorig reported that 63518 people have been tested in Ulaanbaatar and 1300 have STD. Bayanzurkh, Chingeltei district the city Ulaanbaatar have the highest number of people with STD. “ It is because a lot of young people live in those districts and the infrastructure is not well developed comparing with other districts.” Said Minister Zorig. The printed decree by the Ulaanbaatar city governor Narantsatsaralt gave the permission to doctors to use force if a person is not willing to be tested.
However the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is denying the use of force for testing. Before 19980, the Ministry of Health and the local authorities co-operated with medical organisations used to conduct medical examinations and tests, including STD tests and covered 80% of the population.
40 MILLION CHILDREN ARE ORPHANS
Reuters news agency reports that according to the USAID estimation about 40 million children are orphaned since their parents have died of AIDS. Those children are under high risk to starve to death or to become sick or to become involved in child labour. It means the social welfare system has to be responsible for the care of those orphan children.
AIDS AND INFANT MORTALITY
The infant mortality rate is increasing in many countries because of AIDS. If the number of people infected by HIV does decrease the infant mortality rate, will triple over the next 15 years in countries such as Thailand and Zimbabwe.
DEMOGRAPHIC EFFECTS OF AIDS
The average life expectancy of the population of countries can be an important index of development. But in countries seriously affected by AIDS/HIV this index is changing dramatically. For instance, the life expectancy has decreased to 37 years in Uganda placing this country in last place. Scientists calculated that life expectancy will decreased to 25 years in some Asian and African countries by the year 2010. For example, the life expectancy of Zimbabwe is projected to decrease from 70 to 40 by 2010.
The sudden death of the princess Diana was a great loss for people infected by HIV/AIDS. How could we forget her humanistic attitude towards the people with HIV /AIDS. She shook their hands and held children suffering from AIDS and participated actively in the battle against AIDS.
In his condolence Dr. Roi Chan has said that Diana was an outstanding fighter against AIDS and against discrimination of those with HIV and AIDS. She was an active organiser of charity activities.
SOON WOMEN WOULD USE CONDOMS
Until recently condoms were only for men. According to numerous surveys carried out in many countries, it showed that woman are powerless in having safe sexual relations with men. The research work experimenting with condoms for women is in the final stage and the results are promising. Currently 10 countries are ordered the product and more than 30 countries are expressed their interest to purchase the product.
The price of the new condom would not be more than 1 $ promised the NUAIDS program.
Countries from Asia and Pacific region
Australia has been one of the countries most affected by AIDS in the region. Since 1987 as a result of the Government action giving priority to people’s participation against AIDS, AIDS infection is now under control. The number of newly infected people is reducing.
AIDS infection is spreading rapidly in Cambodia and its future is not very rosy According to the official statistics data 600 people are AIDS virus infected . However it is estimated that this number is at least 100 thousand. The study carried out in 1997 shows that 40% of prostitutes, 6% of police and army people, 3% of pregnant women of are infected by AIDS virus.
Xinhua news agency informed that the number of people registered as HIV infected and suffering from AIDS reached to 8277 in September, most were people are intervenous drug users. The joint UNAIDS program estimated that this year 400 thousand more people may have been infected by AIDS virus.
AIDS is spreading dramatically in India. There are currently 5000 people living with AIDS according to official studies. Specialists think 2.5 million people are suspected or being infected by AIDS.
1,521 people are suffering from AIDS virus and 3,665 people are infected, by AIDS in Japan. Most of those unfortunate people got infected from imported donor blood and blood products.
AIDS is spread in Korea extremely slowly. The situation is changing. In June, 1997 679 people were HIV infected and 83 people are suffering from AIDS.
There are 922 people infected with HIV and 312 people are experiencing AIDS symptoms. Most of those people are young people aged 20-49. However about 175000 more people are likely infected by AIDS.
What is UNAIDS ?
In December 1994 UNAIDS program was established as the United NAtion AIDS joint program UNICEF, UNDP, UNESCO, UNFPA, WHO and the World Bank. The main goal of this program to attract attention to the integration all efforts against AIDS. In order to fulfil its objective, a global policy against AIDS should be developed including support in planning, research studies and development amongst all nations.
Dr. Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS program, gave a speech at the Manila Conference. In his speech he underlined that, “ Asia has the highest density of population in the world. Therefore, countries from this region facing the danger of AIDS should wake up from their passiveness and accelerate the battle against AIDS.” He has identified the action plan of the UNAIDS program for this region in the following four steps:
1. The countries and their leaders should realise the necessity of an effective battle against AIDS2. In order to make an effective effort against AIDS, the proven experiences and methods from different countries should be shared.3. To activate community initiatives in the battle against AIDS4. To involve all countries and nations spontaneously in the campaign against AIDS.
“ The battle against AIDS is progressing. Only our enemy is to do nothing” emphasised Mr. Peter in the Manila conference.
Children of the AIDS Era
Every year, on December 1 the world community has a tradition to undertake measures to be solidary in a battle against AIDS, to do publicity work about the harm and hazard of the disease, to offer moral and humanitarian aid to infected and ill people and their relatives. A slogan of battle of each year is different. 1997 year’s battle against AIDS has a slogan:”Children of AIDS Era”.
According to the latest data, 90% of AIDS-infected children under the 15 age are in developing countries. Only in 1996 more 400000 children under age of 15 were infected by AIDS virus.
Children are not only infected but they also experience the consequences of this disease. In many nations of the world children lose their parents and other members of the family given to this fatal disease. By the mid of the last year 9million children under the age 15 became orphans due to this disease. This figure can make one’s heart feel ill, but it is just a small part of the social grievance. In other words, there is a number ill mother or a father or sometimes both ill are waiting in anguish for a fatal end; at the same time so much pain and suffer the children carry. These children are very different from those who lose their parents because of other reasons. These children suffer seeing how their mother or father is getting worse and worse day by day with no way of treatment. In addition to it the cool attitude from other children make them suffer more.
Since AIDS transfers through STD, so that it is very often that children lose both parents. Leon, Ugandan woman says:”I have 11 orphan children. My older sister died of AIDS and left me 6 orphan children. The other 5 are my daughter’s children who also died of AIDS.
The below examples demonstrate the presence of poverty and violation of human rights toward children who lose parents due to AIDS. Since it is heard that one of family members is infected it is common that guests avoid visiting that family; classmates become cool. According to a survey conducted in Thailand for AIDS-infected children it it taboo to play together with other children at a play-yard. Also it was revealed fro from this survey that parents might be fired, the host lady stops visiting , thus the income of the family falls down encountering poverty. There is a number of such examples reported from different corners of the world. Fortunately, there is also a number of individuals and institutions who would like to help. UNICEF, Children Protection Foundation, some religious missions and other voluntary organizations. It is vital to help those families while AIDS-infected parents are alive. Because the children suffer from a very beginning day of parents’infection.
The World Conference held in 1996 “Against violent involvement of children in prostitution and pornography” reported that every year more than 1 million children become prostitutes. Besides, there is a number of hidden violations both moral and physical against them from their relatives or strange people. Today more than 100 million children are called “street children” living on an edge of knife. The thorough preventive program based on the specific needs and demands of street and drug-addicted children is really needed.
Let’s save children who live in Era of AIDS.
PERSONAL VIEW – SHALL WE WAIT FOR THE “SILENT” EPIDEMIC?
You might say we are a little bit exaggerating things. You might also ask “Is AIDS
really threatening Mongolia?” In some countries there is a belief that the Asian people have an immunity against AIDS and it’s not a secret that some Mongolians are also subject to this naive and false understanding. It would be really wonderful if God could have blessed us with such a rare destiny but…
Dramatically, today about 5.2 mln or 25 per cent of all 22.6 mln HIV positive live in the Asia-Pacific region. According to the officil data in Thailand where AIDS was regarded as an alien’s disease, the number of HIV-positive reached 700-800 thousand, in China 8200. So, what’s the situation in Mongolia? The Mongolians proudly say that there is only 1case of AIDS was officially registered in Mongolia. Some sceptically say that there should be more than 1 case… And I am among those who think that AIDS is enevitably threatening Mongolia and is always scared to think of a day when this silent epidemic might completely demolish the country’s 2 mln population.
The term “silent” epidemic was given to the disease because unlike other infectious diseases AIDS has no distinct symptoms and it takes many years before the disease gets exposed and the last ”resort” is always death. So, it is obvious that the HIV positive victims can infect others being completely unaware of their sickness.
Mongolia has all favourable conditions for AIDs to progress like the recent development of tourism, international trade, increase of drunkness, prositution, spread of sexual perversions, street kids, rape, etc. In addition, the increase of STDs gives solid grounds for AIDs development. We, the Mongolians, have very strange attitude towards destroying ourselves with our own hands. It is common to be hospitalized and have intravenous injections and even curse the doctors who didn’t prescribe intravenous injections. There are cases of getting hepatitis B through poor sterilized syringes because of the desire to be hospitalized while being almost healthy. How many patients, nurses do we have who are really scared of getting AIDs through injections? Do we have many doctors who really care of their job’s safety? They only think of curing the diseases and don’t think of getting infected. The HIV positives mostly suffer from pneumonia, TB and lung tumours. The number of TB cases in Mongolia has sharply increased during the last years. Does the medical personnel think about it? The questions like this arouse and scare me among other problems.
Hasn’t the time for us Mongolians come to make considerable efforts and bold steps to stay less exposed to this “silent” epidemic. To lay the AIDS burden on the shoulders of the Ministry of Health would certyainly result in unforgivable mistakes. The AIDS virus doesn’t distinguish between the rich and poor, women and men as well as doesn’t accept any bribes and corruption.
Any of us can become the next victim, so the whole society is not guaranted against it. Since there is no vaccination, no medicine against the virus everybody needs to foster their knowledge , learn more and choose safe means. In that case we can prevent ourselves against the deadly virus.
We need the sound voices of mass media representatives and prominant figures to join our battle against AIDs. Shall we, the Mongolians wait for the “silent” epidemic?
New generation – AIDS
Sexual Education as the most reliable means against AIDS
The first AIDS case was registered in 1981 the victim being an American homosexual and about 6.4 mln people died of AIDS since the first AIDS virus was found in 1983.
Until now no effective medicine was found and everyone infected with AIDS virus is doomed to die. According to the WHO data every day 8500 people get AIDS virus of whom 7500 are adults and 1000 are children.
However, the most reliable prevention is to remember that AIDS is not that dangerous if the person takes proper care of himself. It has become a worldwide trend to teach the younger generation about AIDS transmissons ways and give them sexual education. This would allow us not only protect our 20th century future but also make a feasible contribution to the coming future. At present, 50 per cent of the world and 70 per cent of Mongolia’s population are people under 25. In Mongolia the cases of STDs and prostitution in volve more younger people as compared to previous years and this contributes to the AIDS development and indicates the importance of promoting sexual education among young people especially at secondary schools.
Historically the Mongols never talk about sex to children although the time has gone when they used to learn about sex from their communal living in one dwelling together with their parents, grandparents and also watching the livestock habits.
The nationwide survey “Young generation knowledge, attitude and experiences towards reproductive health” conducted by Mongolian Ministry of Health and WHO covering 5000 young people in between the age of 13-20 showed that 53.6 per cent of them expressed the readiness to learn about family planning, STDs and AIDS from secondary schools, 23.9 from TV and mass media and 13.1 per cent from books and magazines.
At present, the information on sexual education given at secondary schools during biology classes didn’t prove to be fully informative and complete. According to Dr.Lhagwasuren, Head of the National Medical University, a special project should be elaborated focusing on how the sexual education should be taught and when and at what age and in what context.
Recently, the lecturer of the National Medical University B. Ayush and Gynecologist Bayarmaa founded the “Young generation – future” centre.The centre aims at giving basic education about reproductive health to 10-24 year olds, unexpected pregnancy, prevention of STDs and AIDS, as well as rendering qualified medical assistance. The consultancy hot-line “Trusty phone” is to start operating soon and will help to solve urgent problems of the youth. This is the beginning of active actions.
On the other hand, it is time for parents to give up the old fashioned understanding of “secret subject” and join efforts in teaching basic knowledge about sex. It should be also noted that in reality the parents tend to think that teaching sexual education is the duty of school teachers, so the parents also need a special training considering this subject. In other words, the parents- chidlren-school triangle is very important to ensure the success of developing sexual education to children.
It is certain that we won’t solve today’s problems by only introducting sexual education at secondary schools. There are many street kids missing the schools and and this number is increasing, the kids have no supervision and enter the sexual life without any knowledge.
The survey held by the Ministry of Health and UN Human Fund showed the increasing number of street teenagers (girsl) who get involved in sexual relations at the very early age. According to the results out of 92 street teenagers (girls) 71 or 77 per cent already started sexual life and 50.4 per cent of them were raped. The average age is 14. The experts emphasized that these figures are higher as compared to other kids who have homes. Recently, some Asian countries with the same problem of street kids have been successfully passing the sexual education through the so called “leaders” of the groups.
The doctors involved in the survey also noted that when the sreet kids (Ulaanbaatar) get STDs they inject each other with penicillinum instead of going to hospitals.
Another thing that should be considered is that the sexual education should be taught in line with the kids’ interests and habits. For example, some methods like enrolling famous pop singers, rock bands , basketball stars or using the most popular FM channells in STDs and AIDS pevention campaigns could have more effect on city kids while in countryside the prominent young wrestlers with national titles could participate in these campaigns and make them more fruitful.
MAY I BE THE FIRST AND LAST AIDS VICTIM IN MONGOLIA
The only Mongolian with HIV positive for the first time spoke to mass media addressing the teenagers and youth. This decision was motivated by his desire to warn the Mongolian youth of the danger of AIDS widely spreading all over the world and Asian countries and toprotest against some false information related to him and published in some papers. In its October issue one of the papers published an “interview” with him which read that the Mongolian HIV positive had sexual relations with 6 partners and was going to get married soon. However, it was found out that the journalist who rote it never met the HIV positive. Dr. Davaajav, head of the National STD and AIDS Centre, acted as a liason between the press and HIV positive and stressed that his patient had never had sexual relations with anybody since he knew he was HIV positive. He also emphasized that his patient expressed his will to be the first and the last AIDS victim in Mongolia.
The interview was given to Ardyn Erkh paper, the most popular national daily distributed both in urban and rural areas. According to Dr. Davaajav the HIV positive’s health state is satisfactory and the AIDS symptoms have not shown up. “Of course he needs a moral and human support as he feels really down” says Dr. Davaajav. Right now, the HIV positive has no job and has no place of his own.
THREE REASONS WHY THE YOUTH IS EXPOSED TO AIDS
Dr. John Chittick who has been working on AIDS projects for the last 10 years and conducted “AIDS, Teenagers and the Youth” survey, founded a Teen AIDS-PeerCorps charity fund. Dr. Chittick thinks that the campaigns on AIDS prevention among the teenagers are really insufficient and the governments neglect this problem. According to him, there are 3 reasons why the youth has wrong understanding about AIDS regarding it as an adults’ disease. The reasons are as the following:
They don’t realize AIDS as a real threat The youth and teenagers have no opportunity to see HIV positives among themselves because AIDS virus appears after 10 years the person gets infected.
They don’t receive enough information on AIDS.The adults, especially in Asian countries don’t talk much about AIDS and sex. They always say “Don’t” but rarely explain why it is prohibited. And the youth actually disregards these don’ts.
They don’t talk about AIDS among themselves. Acording to Dr. John Chittick’s studies the young people in Asian countries don’t talk much about sex and AIDS. The situation is a little bit better in European countries. If you are interested in Dr. John Chittick’s activities on staging AIDS preventive campaigns please refer to his e-mail or write a letter.
Note: The national magazine on AIDS is available on Internet at information centres sponsored by UNDP. These centeres function in Ulaanbaatar, Tuv and Uvurhangai aimags.
Means of prevention
To stay with one sexual partner is one of the most reliable and handy means.
Avoid using alcohol and drugs which lead to loosing self control.
Make sure you have a condomn just in case. Don’t get ashamed to use it and remember it is very important for the couples to learn how to use it properly.
Make it a habit to use only sterilized syringes.
Use only analyzed blood or blood substances in treatment.
It is not very difficult, isn’t it? Once you discuss these means within your family or with your friends, don’t forget that you protect not only yourself, but also help to protect others from AIDs virus.
Questions and answers about HIV-AIDS
Q:If I know (suspect) that somebody is HIV positive how should I react to it?
A: First thing is to remember that you won’t get infected through sharing dishes, toilet, shaking hands, kissing, etc. Make sure you keep the person’s secret and avoid gossip ping about it. Try to be human because AIDS is like TB or dysentery and nobody is guaranteed against it.
Q:How can a person know that he is not infected?
A: It is difficult to say if the person is infected or not just looking at him, so the couples should get AIDS tests after 5 months they had sexual relations. This will allow you to be more self confident.
Q:Can I get infection through kissing?
A: Normally, the AIDS virus was not found in saliva. So, there is less danger but in cases of bleeding or damaged cavity there is a possibility for the AIDS virus to penetrate.
Q: Is there any place in Mongolia to get consultancy on AIDS and STDs?
A: The consultancy service was founded in 1992 and is located in the western wing of the Infectious Diseases Hospital AIDs/STDs Centre, 1st floor, Room 104.
Quarterly magazine, comes out in English, France, Portugeuse and Spanish. Free distribution to developing countries.
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“Despite rising rates of HIV infection in Asia, there is no evidence to suggest that HIV is currently a problem in Mongolia6. However, our study suggests that there is a significant problem with STDs, including antimicrobial resistant N. gonorrhoeae in this region. STDs are known to be an important factor in HIV transmission and outbreaks of STDs have been associated with significant increases in HIV in specific geographic regions15.”