It is one of the most tragic stories in contemporary Kyrgyzstan: nearly 200 children from the country’s impoverished south in recent years allegedly have been infected with HIV in hospitals. For over three years, dozens of mothers of infected victims have demanded government compensation, as well as called for the prosecution of medical personnel for negligence.
The mothers’ most recent protests in the center of the capital Bishkek have drawn government promises of greater assistance and vigorous denunciations of doctors. But, as counter-protests by doctors and nurses have highlighted, there is growing concern that ordinary medical personnel are being scapegoated for what many describe as systemic problems in Kyrgyzstan’s hospitals.
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Nate Schenkkan is a Bishkek-based journalist.