March 23, 2010
Ruslan is returning to prison to visit his fellow inmates, but this time he’s a free man. He's come back to Colony 31, a special penal colony for prisoners suffering from tuberculosis (TB), to celebrate with his doctors the completion of his long, arduous and painful treatment for multidrug-resistant TB (MDR TB).
One of the big challenges of a disease such as TB is maintaining continuity of treatment, because if treatment is interrupted, drug resistance could develop.
From 2006 to 2009 MSF supported 2,270 TB cases, including 200 MDR TB cases, in Colony No. 31 and Sizo No. 1. MSF’s TB project includes the provision of training and drugs, the equipping of laboratories and the rehabilitation of the prison hospitals and living quarters for TB patients.
MSF has overseen the introduction of internationally-adapted treatment protocols in the penitentiary system and has assisted the Justice Department and the Ministry of Health to improve the medical care of TB patients in prison.
In 2007, an MSF office of “social support” was opened in Osh, the largest city in the south of Kyrgyzstan, to help former inmates maintain their treatment. To highlight the fact that the fight against TB, especially in prison, is not only a medical issue but also a human rights issue, MSF organized two photo exhibitions in Bishkek to raise awareness of the plight of prisoners and ex-prisoners with TB. Entitled “Behind the Bars and TB” and “In and Out: Leaving Prison with Tuberculosis," the exhibitions were the work of the Ukrainian photographer Alexander Glyadyelov.
© 2013 Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)