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 Report - Eliminating tuberculosis as a public health threat in prisons (ICRC)

 Report date: 26.03.2003

Azeri version


Baku, March 24, 2003

Eliminating tuberculosis as a public health threat in prisons

On the occasion of the World Tuberculosis Day 2003, the international community engaged in the fight against TB celebrates the discovery of the TB bacillus, which opened the modern era against the white plague. The modern strategy to fight this epidemic is called Directly Observed Treatment Short course and is recommended by the World Health Organisation. This strategy is implemented by the ICRC in its TB programmes in prisons in the Southern Caucasus.

The involvement of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in treating Tuberculosis (TB) in the Azerbaijani penitentiary system dates back to June 1995 being a response to the considerable magnitude of the problem. As cooperation with the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) proved to be successful, a pilot project developed into a full-fledged TB control programme. In July 1998, a newly rehabilitated penitentiary hospital was deployed by the MOJ to become a central TB treatment facility for all inmates.

Since 1999, having accomplished training of the medical staff, the ICRC has begun handing over most of the responsibilities in the treatment process to the MOJ. With the beginning of the hand-over process, the role of the ICRC in day-to-day activities in the TB hospital developed more into technical assistance with evaluation functions.

To date, over 4,500 TB-affected detainees have been integrated into the treatment course in accordance with the DOTS protocol. The ICRC provides first-line medicines, laboratory materials for bacteriological diagnosis and helps with technical advice when necessary. The joint team of ICRC specialists and TB coordination unit of the MOJ regularly evaluate progress of the program.

To improve the TB control program in prisons, the ICRC supported MOJ in their effort to embark on the Active Finding of the TB cases, more particularly the MMR screening at the pre-trial isolator. New ward for women prisoners afflicted by TB was constructed with assistance of the ICRC.

The ICRC has started the distribution of over 6,000 leaflets and 160 posters produced by the Delegation in Azerbaijan in the frame of health education on tuberculosis (TB) prevention project in the penitentiary system of Azerbaijan. Together with the Ministry of Justice, the ICRC has launched this project to increase knowledge of TB regarding early signs and symptoms, and DOTS treatment procedures for the detainees, their visitors, medical staff and security personnel. In addition, information seminars cover the Specialised Treatment Institution for Detainees with Tuberculosis and Bailov pre-trial isolator of the Ministry of Justice, where each new detainee benefits from a TB briefing session at the time of the entry. This health education programme is expected to be extended to all places of detention in Azerbaijan.

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