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MSF in Kyrgyzstan, 2006
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Within the prison system in Kyrgyzstan, the incidence of tuberculosis (TB) is up to 25 times higher than in the civilian sector, where the contagious disease is present at already alarmingly high rates. Crowded prison conditions provide an ideal environment for the tuberculosis bacilli to spread into the air quickly and easily through coughing, sneezing, or even talking.
In 2005, MSF saw a role in helping Kyrgyzstan confront its growing TB problem and opened a tuberculosis program in September. The project is focused on two detention centers, one in Bishkek and a second in a nearby prison colony. High quality TB drugs were imported into the country and MSF initiated medical training, the preparation of health education material and started seeing patients.
By May 2006, 242 patients had been treated for TB. Early in May, MSF also began to rehabilitate the laboratory in one of 11 colonies for sentenced detainees and some cells in SIZO 1, a pre-trial detention center in Bishkek, in order to provide better TB care. The rehabilitation focuses on the separation of infected patients and the provision of a safe environment for sputum collection.
As more data are collected, it is becoming apparent that many people in Kyrgyzstan are multi-drug-resistant (MDR-TB), exhibiting a strain of the disease that renders the two best anti-tuberculosis treatments, rifampicin and isoniazid, largely ineffective. Treatment is possible, but it is extremely rigorous and difficult for the patients, taking up to two years and normally requiring lengthy hospitalization. MSF will be assessing the prevalence of MDR-TB in the prison system throughout 2006.
MSF has worked in Kyrgyzstan since 2005 and previously operated an HIV/AIDS and STI prevention project from 1996 to 2001.