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MSF in Kyrgyzstan, 2007
Field Staff: 46
Reason for Intervention:
All articles on Kyrgyzstan »
Since 2005, MSF has worked to address tuberculosis (TB) in two of Kyrgyzstan’s prisons, where incidence rates were estimated to be 25 times higher than in civil society. MSF supports TB detection and administers TB treatment in the prisons. Together with national institutions and other international organizations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, MSF is also trying to respond to the alarming rate of drug resistant TB.
The Ministry of Justice has initiated a penal reform process but the prisons remain among the most overcrowded in the former Soviet states. Despite high TB prevalence, cumbersome bureaucracy makes it extremely difficult to set up mechanisms of TB control. Continuity of treatment when a patient is transferred or released is questionable and those leaving prison often face stigma and discrimination.
Many prisoners get sick in prison, while others learn they have TB only when they arrive. Prisoners used to be kept in crowded cells, with poor ventilation and scarce light. To change this MSF has implemented early detection of TB in the pre-trial detention centers and has rehabilitated medical rooms and the cells of TB patients. MSF also undertakes infection control and the separation of sick inmates.
MSF refurbished and maintained the laboratory and rehabilitated the hospital in one of the prisons. The new facility ensures the isolation of highly infectious and drug-resistant patients and the separation of patients with different resistance patterns from recovering patients. MSF provides TB care for 550 patients a year and nutritious food to support recovery.
To help alleviate the stigma, MSF organized a photography exhibition depicting the lives and treatment of TB patients ‘behind bars’. It was the first such event to unveil this hidden world to the wider public. MSF is also lobbying respective authorities to take responsibility for solving the problem of TB in prisons, particularly by providing sufficient human resources.
MSF has worked in Kyrgyzstan since 2005.