Red Cross raises TB awareness among women held in Russia

Central Asian migrant woman held in a temporary facility for undocumented migrants where the Red Cross pays regular visits, reads a Red Cross leaflet about TB prevention. Andreea Anca, IFRC

By Andreea Anca, IFRC

Last week, on 21 March, was Navroz – the beginning of spring across many cultures in Central Asia. For one group of women held at a centre for undocumented migrants in a suburb of Moscow, the celebration is marked by the arrival of Russian Red Cross food parcels, sweets and, not least, leaflets about the HIV and tuberculosis (TB) prevention.

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“We were all looking out the window to see when the Red Cross car was arriving,” says Zilola, a 40- year-old woman from Uzbekistan. She has been held at the centre since December 2015 for lacking the proper work and resident permits she needs to live legally in Russia. She is expecting to leave the facility and return to her home country at the end of March.

Since 2015, the Red Cross has been allowed to visit people here every month, holding health information sessions on HIV and TB. It also distributes food, sweets, hygiene kits, women magazines and clothes.

The programme is supported by the International Federal of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Head of the IFRC’s regional office, Davron Mukhamadiev, said: “Psychologically, it is important for the women to know that there is someone who cares about them outside this facility.”

Since the Red Cross and the centre signed a cooperation agreement, conditions have improved. TB screening has been introduced for all new arrivals and the authorities have recruited staff who put the dignity of those held first.

Alexej Ladoga the

centre’s administrative director, said: “We have great cooperation with the Red Cross and their visits really improve the mood of the people here.”

The TB information session is part of the “Programme to strengthen advocacy and TB prevention measures in economic migrant communities,” funded by the Lilly Partnership, a global health initiative launched in 2003 to fight the growing threat of multi-drug resistant TB.

As part of the Regional Health Initiative, the largest HIV Red Cross programme, the Russian Red Cross works in close cooperation with local and national health authorities in Tula, Sochi, Irkutsk and Belorechensk.

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