Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

While global community is struggling with the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic and asking people to stay at their homes, China, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Taiwan are gradually returning to the former life, without medical masks and self-isolation.  According to the calculations of Singaporean scientists, Uzbekistan may also enter this list soon and become the first country in the CIS to overcome the epidemic before other countries.

Since the pandemic started, the government did not cherish illusions that the virus would bypass Uzbekistan. The first case of COVID-19 was recorded on March,15 and literally the next day the government took operational measures: the suspension of transport and air services began, the closure of all kindergartens and educational institutions was announced, and the markets of non-food products and shopping centers were closed too. One of the most strategically important decisions was the construction of hospitals.

Uzbekistan was one of the first countries among the Commonwealth of Independent States to begin the construction of hospitals designed to fight against Covid-19. On March 25, when there were just 55 patients with Covid-19, but the number of people who needed to be quarantined was growing, to reduce the load from public clinics, the construction of hospitals began. The task of the national importance was to construct a quarantine zone not only in a matter of days but also ensuring that they will meet the latest sanitary epidemic requirements. To meet the challenge in the construction of the hospitals and quarantine zones energy efficient materials and technologies have been used. 

The government started the construction of another 2000 beds’ infectious disease hospital, with possible extension to 4000 beds, in Zangiata district. 

In Uzbekistan, since 2017, the United Nations Development Programme jointly with the Ministry of Construction of the Republic of Uzbekistan, are pioneering the energy efficient solutions into building constructions to promote green buildings and contribute to green economy development within the project titled “Market transformation for sustainable rural housing in Uzbekistan”, funded by the Global Environment Facility of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Within the project implementation course,  the energy efficient and low carbon solutions applied to building constructions have been piloted. Those are recognized as cost-effective for achieving saving energy, decreasing the carbon footprint and ultimately mitigating the climate change. 800 one-storeyed three-room low-carbon affordable rural family houses have been constructed in the 5 regions of Uzbekistan: 176 houses in the Samarkand, 185 houses in the Surkhandarya, 206 houses in the Ferghana, 112 houses in the Khorezm and 121 houses in the Bukhara regions.

The experience of the Ministry of Construction gained in construction of energy-efficient and low-carbon housing allowed to erect a brand new hospital in a short time in Chilanzar district in Tashkent. The building has been constructed using high quality energy effective materials. All required conditions for emergency medical aid have been provided here.  

All medical institutions having been built during the struggling against Covid-19 pandemic are capital facilities, which can be used further as multi-profile medical centres. Despite the fact that they have been delivered within a very short period, the clinics meet all the requirements implied by the international standards. 

This success allowed Uzbekistan to provide assistance in construction of medical institutions to fight the coronavirus in the neighboring countries. Thus, in May 2020, as a humanitarian aid, 500 medical containers equipped with the artificial lung ventilation systems, were delivered by rail from Uzbekistan to Tajikistan. Each container is a small chamber, where there is everything necessary for medical treatment and accommodation.

The construction of green housing and medical facilities is closely linked with the modern construction materials market. During the COVID-related quarantine period, the volume of construction material production by local industries decreased by 30-40%, and sales of raw materials went down. The “O‘zqurilishmaterillari” Association has been taking steps to expanding the production of import-substituting construction materials and for launching 7 projects aimed at production of energy efficient construction materials and design of green buildings and facilities, for which such construction materials are required.

For example, within the joint project UNDP/GEF and the Ministry of Construction “Market transformation for sustainable rural housing in Uzbekistan”, in the construction of pilot low-carbon individual affordable houses in rural areas, the building materials and advanced technologies available in the country such as basement insulation, thermal insulation of external walls and floors and walls by basalt mats, the use of heat-reflecting surfaces, the installation of PVs and solar water heaters for domestic energy needs, etc. are used to make the buildings as green ones. 

In addition to energy saving opportunities in green buildings, the indoor comfort in their premises is secured for residents, patients and medical personnel during both hot and cold seasons that is beneficial for the people’s health.

Thus, due to the high organization, timely diagnosis, construction of quarantine zones and infectious diseases hospitals, Uzbekistan has succeeded in limiting the growth of infected.

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