July 19, 2010

Doctors Without Borders Calls for Impartial Access to Health Care

Five weeks after violent clashes erupted in the south of Kyrgyzstan, MSF continues to deal with cases of violence on a daily basis.

Geneva, July 20, 2010 Five weeks after violent clashes erupted in the south of Kyrgyzstan, and despite an apparent return to a more peaceful situation, doctors, psychologists, and nurses working with the international humanitarian medical organization, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continue to deal with cases of violence on a daily basis. More concerning still is that the capacity of victims to receive adequate health care differs according to the community they belong to.

“Every day, in our mobile clinics and health facilities with which we collaborate, our medical teams treat patients who recently suffered heavy beatings or who even show signs of torture,” said Andrei Slavuckij, MSF program manager for Kyrgyzstan. “Many people, especially from the Uzbek community in Osh, told us they are not going to a public medical structure as they are afraid of being arrested.”

Amid a climate of fear and deep mistrust between Uzbek and Kyrgyz communities, access to health care is still a major concern due to the presence of armed personnel in and around some health structures in Osh. The fear of not receiving adequate and impartial medical services deters many persons requiring urgent medical attention from seeking adequate care.

“In such a tense and volatile context, we call on all responsible authorities to preserve the neutrality of medical facilities. It is essential that any patient who needs care can receive adequate treatment, regardless of their origin,” said Bruno Jochum, director of operations for MSF.

Since the start of the current crisis, MSF has provided more than 1,400 medical consultations through four mobile teams in and around Osh and Jalal-Abad. MSF has also been supporting 25 health structures with donations of drugs and medical equipment. Today, thousands of people are still in a state of deep shock after the extremely violent and traumatizing events that took place in June. Mental health needs are immense and MSF is increasingly focusing its action on psychological support.

MSF has worked in Kyrgyzstan since 2006, providing medical treatment to tuberculosis patients in the penitentiary system, including those suffering from the most resistant forms of the disease. Today, 45 MSF employees, including 19 international and 26 national staff, are running the current emergency operation.

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