Kazakhstan: Fighting tuberculosis

  • International staff: 6
  • National staff: 21 Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the biggest health problems in Kazakhstan, where 18,500 cases were declared in 1998 (out of a total population of 16 million). Since beginning work in Kazakhstan in 1996, MSF has been helping to fight TB in several provinces. A successful pilot project in the southern area of Baidibek, begun in January 1998, demonstrated the effectiveness of the DOTS (Directly Observed Treatment Short Course) TB treatment method. In July 1999, the project was extended to encompass the Ordobassy area, also in the south. In both places, MSF introduced and implemented DOTS as the TB treatment of choice and rehabilitated facilities and equipment in TB clinics. Training nurses and other health workers in TB diagnosis and treatment is key to the program. Tuberculosis control is also a focus in Almaty province and in the regions of Illy and Balkash. In the regional polyclinics, MSF identifies new TB cases, provides drugs, and ensures that there is adequate follow-up treatment for patients after they have first been treated in the larger clinics. MSF uses posters, leaflets, drama and children's doll play to educate people about the disease. MSF also goes to meetings at the national TB institute and hopes to help establish a regional training center in Shimkent. Kazakhstan is the place of refuge for about 12,000 Chechens who fled their homes during the recent conflict. MSF is evaluating how it might assist this vulnerable group. MSF has been working in Kazakhstan since 1996.