TB in Kyrgyzstan: MSF Provides Treatment to Former Inmates

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Médecins Sans Frontiéres (MSF/Doctors Without Borders) has been running a TB treatment project in Kyrgyzstan since 2006, working in two sites: a detention centre Colony No. 1 and a pre-detention centre SIZO No. 1. One out of three prisoners with tuberculosis is released before the completion of treatment and faces enormous obstacles once outside the penitentiary system. Since they struggle, mostly unsupported, with drug addiction and for the bare necessities of life, many ex-prisoners do not see their treatment as a high priority. Some may not even have the money to reach the nearest TB facility. If they do reach it, they may not be accepted because they don't have the proper documents or because medical staff are unwilling to treat ‘ex-prisoners'.

In 2007 an MSF office of social support was opened in Osh, the largest city in the south of the country, to help former inmates to continue their treatment on 'the outside'. Today around 70 former patients are being supported, by a team of MSF social workers and a network of volunteers, to complete their TB treatment. Support includes: counselling, information and education, food parcels and money for transport.

To highlight the fact that the fight against tuberculosis, especially in prison, is not only a medical issue but also a human rights issue. MSF organised two photo exhibitions in Bishkek in order to raise awareness about the plight of prisoners and ex-prisoners with TB. The most recent exhibition is entitled: 'In and out – leaving prison with tuberculosis' was the work of the Ukrainian photographer Alexander Glyadyelov. What follows is a selection from this exhibition.

Sergei with MSF social workers, two days before his release from  Colony 31, 2009. 

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