Kyrgyzstan: Improving detection and treatment of STDs
- International staff: 4
- National staff: 26
MSF started working in Kyrgyzstan 1996, during an outbreak of typhoid fever. However, the growing incidence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), coupled with the collapse of the health system, soon prompted a focus on STD/HIV prevention and treatment.
In 1998, MSF opened the "Rainbow Center," an STD/AIDS information center in Osh, and began to target high risk groups. The "Sex Workers Outreach Project" (SWOP) was launched in late 1998 and focuses on outreach visits. The team also organizes education seminars (called "coffee breaks") for sex workers once a month in the MSF office.
In addition, MSF has trained sex workers as educators. Initially charged with giving condoms to their peers and informing them about MSF, the educators also work on "mini-projects" such as increasing awareness of STDs among taxi and trucks drivers. Members of a support group accompany women to public clinics to get tested and treated for STDs.
The medical part of the program includes STD screening and treatment at 29 hospitals, clinics and laboratories in the Osh area. MSF supplies drugs and trains gynecologists and dermo-venereologists.
The organization has introduced a new syphilis test for area health facilities, designed to improve diagnosis and reduce patient hospitalization. MSF also worked with the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization on a study of the resistance to antibiotics of gonorrhea, another painful STD.
Given the instability in the region and the frequent fighting between armed groups (particularly on the border with Tajikistan), MSF is closely watching the security situation in the country.