Gov’t to focus on improved health care for prisonersMonday, December 3, 2007 – 11:24 am
Source: Stabroek News
The Ministries of Health and Home Affairs and a number of other stakeholder agencies will be stepping up efforts to improve health care for prisoners and staff of penitentiaries, the Government Information Agency (GINA) reported.
Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy during a presentation of data collected on a recently conducted survey on HIV prevalence in prisons reiterated the need for better health care in prisons.
“I think the point to note is that in most cases, prisoners are not prisoners for life. The one thing we must always accept, acknowledge and embrace is the fact that prisoners are a part of our society and community and since this is true, whatever happens in the prisons will meet the community,” Minister Ramsammy is quoted by GINA as saying. He noted that efforts are being taken to improve health care offered to inmates. A recent survey carried out by the Health Ministry showed that there is a five per cent prevalence rate of HIV in the prisons as compared to the general acceptance rate. He said in some countries this rate is even higher.
“The Guyana National Prevention and Control of HIV and TB Programmes have paid attention to these issues in our prisons and several actions are being taken,” Ramsammy said.
He also commended the Ministry of Home Affairs for the incremental efforts it has been making to improve the welfare of prisoners, particularly in the area of health care.
According to the Ministry of Health, the survey which was sponsored by the World Bank was conducted at six prisons: the New Amsterdam Male and Female Prisons, Mazaruni Prison, Lusignan Prison, Sibley Hall Prison and Camp Street Prison over the past six months. A total of 513 prisoners and persons on remand were surveyed, which included 440 males and 73 females.
The study, using probability sampling for the male population and a census for the females, found that there is an overall HIV prevalence of 5.24 percent, with 24 out of the 513 prisoners testing positive for HIV.
Of the 24 persons who tested positive for HIV, 79.2 percent were males and 20.8 percent females. On the issue of tuberculosis, it was revealed that a large number of persons were exposed to TB according to the TB Skin test (Montoux). Further follow-up studies would need to be done with these persons, the ministry said.