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MSF in Kyrgyzstan, 2010
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In April 2010, President Bakiyev of Kyrgyzstan was ousted by a popular revolt. Then in June the south of the country was shaken by violence between Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities. MSF, running projects in Kyrgyzstan to treat prisoners infected with tuberculosis (TB), was able to assist those in need during the emergencies.
Political and intercommunal violence
When rioting began in the capital Bishkek, MSF provided drugs and medical supplies to four health centres. In the south, MSF donated medical supplies and drugs to hospitals and clinics in the provinces of Osh and Jalalabad within days of violence breaking out. Almost 400,000 Uzbeks were displaced, and around 2,000 homes were destroyed. Many people in need of treatment were too afraid to leave their communities, so between June and August MSF ran mobile clinics to reach people in need of care. MSF psychologists held over 660 mental health consultations and 3,700 patients participated in over 550 group therapy sessions.
Months later, tension and mistrust between the communities still hindered access to healthcare. MSF identified 50,000 people from all ethnic groups, in ten districts of Osh city, as particularly vulnerable: some because they had lost their homes, businesses or livelihoods in the clashes, others – single mothers, the elderly living on very small pensions, or large families with no income – were already in precarious situations before the June events. MSF operated in seven public health facilities, where staff helped to ensure the provision of care in a non-discriminatory and neutral manner.
Treating TB in prison
MSF has been treating prisoners infected with TB in Kyrgyzstan since 2005. The incidence of the disease in prisons has declined over the years: the number of patients detected each year dropped from 700 to 350 between 2006 and 2010. This is mainly because of a reduction in the prison population. Around two-thirds of infectious TB patients in the penitentiary system have drug-resistant TB (including all forms of drug-resistant TB). The treatment programme for drug-resistant TB is often very long and difficult. In 2010, MSF treated 230 new TB patients.
Prisoners diagnosed with TB are referred to treatment facilities in three prisons in and around Bishkek, where staff work in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the prison authorities and international organisations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross.
One of the most important challenges is to assure uninterrupted treatment after release, as one-third of TB patients are released from prison before treatment is completed. MSF provides medical and social support to former prisoners with TB and is working to find ways to motivate them to complete their treatment. In 2010, 78 TB patients were released from prison, and 57 of them were still receiving treatment at the end of the year. MSF is advocating for a national TB control policy in the penal system.
MSF has worked in Kyrgyzstan since 2005.