Reference : V-P-AZ-E-00287
Date : 18/02/2010
Country/Region : AZERBAIJAN
Caption : Baku, rundown treatment facility for tuberculosis patients, including ex-detainees. These two men met in the prison hospital and have remained close friends since being released. Both continue to need treatment for multi-drug resistant TB.
Photographer : AHAD, Zalmaï
Confidentiality level : public
Publication restrictions : publication without restrictions
Copyright : ICRC
Description : Dilapidated dacha

Not far from the well-appointed prison hospital, closer to the Caspian Sea, lies the former summer dacha of the Nobel brothers, who got rich off the country’s oil derricks back in the 1870s.

Today, it is home to a radically different set of “brothers” – Iramal and Ilgar, who met as prisoners at the TB treatment centre and, like Salman and Ilham, have formed a close bond. They were transferred to the dilapidated dispensary after being released in 2009. It is the only care facility in the country that is willing to take ex-convicts.

“We make sure they get three meals a day and regular checks by the doctors. The medical staff ensures they don’t skip their medicine,” says the director of the facility, Ismayilov Habil. “Last month, three patients died. They had no family, so I used my own money to bury them in a nearby cemetery. My philosophy is that everyone deserves to be treated with compassion, so I do what I can.”

The ICRC provides food and hygiene items for the former detainees and collects their blood and sputum samples for regular analysis. The organization also offers a modest financial incentive to the nurses, who are responsible for directly observing patients' treatment.

No doubt the Nobel brothers would scarcely recognize their country home if they were alive today. Hollow-cheeked patients sleep five or six to a room and there is little to do while waiting to get better but nap on metal cots and watch an endless stream of grainy images on the small black and white TV. Ilgar and Iramal may no longer be behind bars, but in many ways, they are still imprisoned by their disease.

Ilgar, a repeat narcotics offender, suspects he caught TB during his first stint in jail back in 2001. He recently completed another 18-month sentence for drug use and now has nowhere else to go.

“I am alone in this world and homeless,” he says in a hushed, breathy voice. “I don’t know what I would do if this place didn’t exist. No one has ever come to see me but luckily, I have Iramal. We lived through some very hard days together in prison. We will never forget those days and we will remain friends all our lives.”

Original material : digital
Resolution : 4000x2666
Orientation : landscape
Colour/B&W : black and white