Prison service wants to build own hospital

The Government has been urged to help the Ghana Prisons Service to establish a hospital to cater for both inmates and staff of prisons as it pertains in other security agencies.

This will help the Prisons Service to adequately manage health conditions of inmates in their custody.

Speaking to the Ghanaian Times newspaper in Accra on Tuesday, the Chief Public Relations Officer of the Prisons Service, Assistant Superintendent of Prisons (ASP) Courage Atsem, said a number of proposals had been presented to governments, but were yet to receive any positive response.

“What we have now, are infirmaries with inadequate medical supplies and resources,” he added.

Answering a question on how the service manages critical conditions, ASP Atsem explained that “serious cases are referred to government hospitals for further attention.”

ASP Atsem said “prisoners are not screened because the service does not have the right to reject a prisoner based on a health condition”, adding that inmates with communicable diseases like tuberculosis and whooping cough are immediately transferred to the Ankaful Diseases Prisons (CDP) where diseases were managed.

Reacting to the possibility of some prisoners with communicable diseases under their custody, ASP Atsem stated that the situation might not have been reported to the headquarters.

“As soon as the administration at the headquarters is informed of any infection, the inmates are transferred,” he added.

On the need for people infected with HIV to be separated from the other inmates, ASP Atsem noted that although some people might insist on that, “it is against the World Health Organisation (WHO) rules” adding that with the introduction of anti-retroviral drugs financed by the service, one can hardly notice who is HIV positive or not.”

Touching on deaths in the Prisons, ASP Atsem noted that a total of 84 deaths were recorded in 2009 which showed a decrease of 21.5 per cent over the previous year’s figure of 107 with a death rate of 0.6 per cent.

On HIV infections and other communicable diseases in the prisons, ASP Atsem noted that although he was not holding brief for the service, the fact still remained that there might be circumstances where inmates already had the disease before being admitted into the prisons.

ASP Atsem appealed to philanthropists and other medical agencies to donate to the service to help improve other health conditions.

He said the Nsawam Security Prison had a clinic which needs refurbishment, adding, “What we have now are infirmaries with inadequate medical supplies and resources,” he added.

ASP Atsem, however, commended government for the enormous support given to the prisons towards the completion of the first phase of the Ankaful Maximum Security Prisons.

Source: The Ghanaian Times/Ghana