Objectives: The aim of this study was to assist in the development of a health technology assessment (HTA) program for the Ministry of Health (MOH) of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Methods: Mentoring of an initial HTA program in Kazakhstan was provided by the Canadian Society for International Health (CSIH) by means of a partnership with the Kazakhstan MOH. HTA materials, courses, and one-on-one support for the preparation of a series of initial HTA reports by MOH HTA staff were provided by a seven-member CSIH team over a 2.5-year project.
Results: Guidance documents on HTA and institutional strengthening were prepared in response to an extensive set of deliverables developed by the MOH and the World Bank. Introductory and train-the-trainer workshops in HTA and economic evaluation were provided for MOH staff members, experts from Kazakhstan research institutes and physicians. Five short HTA reports were successfully developed by staff in the Ministry's HTA Unit with assistance from the CSIH team. Challenges that may be relevant to other emerging HTA programs included lack of familiarity with some essential underlying concepts, organization culture, and limited time for MOH staff to do HTA work.
Conclusions: The project helped to define the need for HTA and mentored MOH staff in taking the first steps to establish a program to support health policy decision making in Kazakhstan. This experience offers practical lessons for other emerging HTA programs, although these should be tailored to the specific context.