In December 2010, I went to the Donbass region in Ukraine. I was greatly influenced by what I saw on the first day. One of the first patients I photographed was suffering from gastrointestinal tuberculosis. He was lying naked on a hospital bed and staring at the ceiling. A week later I was with him in the last hours of his life. He could not move or talk, his body was like a skeleton covered with skin. He clutched a cross to his chest and prayed. Afterwards I met his wife and she told me how he had walked around the house with a torn stomach and intestines dragging across the floor, because the ambulance had refused to transfer him to the hospital. They had to call for a taxi.
After a while, I realized that this was happening all over the country, that the tuberculosis epidemic had become a national problem. Many prisons release convicts with serious health conditions so as not to spoil their mortality figures. Two-thirds of former prisoners are released into the country without being kept under medical supervision. Hospitals are in a terrible state and rely on doctors who are long overdue to retire. Patients with drug-resistant TB have to use public transport to get their medicine and food. Those without money just die in their beds. In the midst of the current political conflict in Ukraine everybody is just indifferent to the problem of tuberculosis and its victims.