ASTANA, KAZAKHSTAN. On 24 October 2012 a conference will take place in Astana on the theme: ‘Reducing the spread of tuberculosis in the penitentiary and post-penitentiary sphere’, with the cooperation of the Ministry of Health and financial support from the European Union.
‘Although tuberculosis within the penitentiary system is a serious challenge in and of itself, it is also essential to carefully consider the implications for wider society. That prisoners with tuberculosis do not always complete a full course of treatment when they are released presents a much more serious problem, both from a medical and an economic point of view. In 2011, 581 prisoners were released having not completed their treatment, and in the first half of 2012, 330. It is imperative, therefore, in the interests of society, to think about how to encourage such people to continue their treatment,’ says Saule Mektepbayeva, Regional Director of PRI in Central Asia.
‘Tuberculosis is also one of the biggest reasons why the question of replacing camp based prisons with cell based prisons must be resolved as a matter of utmost priority. In 2011, 330 cases of death from tuberculosis were registered in prisons in Kazakhstan, and in the first nine months of 2012 there were 205 deaths. Placing people in prison facilities in their current condition means placing people in conditions where their health is at serious risk.’
Cases of death from tuberculosis are nine times more frequent in prisons that among the rest of the population. In total, 1,803 people in penal facilities in Kazakhstan are suffering from tuberculosis. Lyubov Rubezhanskaya, Director of the Public Fund for the Protection of Human Rights and the Eradication of Tuberculosis ‘Luch Nadezhdy’, shares the conclusions of her observations:
‘Unfortunately, there is currently a lack of consistent treatment for those who have been released from prison facilities with tuberculosis. We often come up against an unwillingness to continue treatment for a multitude of reasons: from a basic ignorance among ex-prisoners of the serious risk that this poses to their health, to a pressing need to be with and provide for their family. Sometimes, though, they are reluctant to continue treatment simply out of indifference to their state of health. The situation varies from region to region but there is not yet one single effective model for working with ex-prisoners.’
Representatives of prison service, international experts from Azerbaijan and senior doctors of the TB-prevention health centres in the Akmola, East Kazakhstan, Karaganda, Pavlodar, North Kazakhstan and South Kazakhstan regions will take part in the conference, as well as prison staff from regions and international and non-governmental organisations.
Journalists are invited to participate in the conference, which will take place at 10am on 24 October 2012 in the conference hall of the ‘King Hotel’ (7 Valikhanova Street, Astana). Registration of participants will begin at 9.30.
For additional information please contact Azamat Shambilov, PRI Project Coordinator, tel./fax: +7 7172 78 76 74, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or Karla Jamankulova, Press and Information Officer of the European Union in Kazakhstan, tel.+ (7172) 97-11-48, Karlygash.Jamankulova@eeas.europa.eu.