Sick inmates put their lives at risk in overcrowded prisons

LAHORE: Inmates in the 42 overcrowded prisons in Punjab are vulnerable to a possible outbreak/epidemic of AIDS, Hepatitis B and C.

It comes from an official report which reveals that 1,445 prisoners have been diagnosed with multiple illnesses amid shortage of treatment facilities in Punjab’s 42 prisons. He says treatment facilities are not up to par for prisoners with infectious diseases due to overcrowding and unavailability of doctors.

An official said prisons have become high-risk places for the transmission of contagious diseases, which creates a huge challenge in managing the outbreak of infectious diseases. Currently, he says, of the 40 doctors, 30 have recently joined while other seats are vacant.

The official said most doctors avoid assignments in prisons and get transferred out of prisons because of the difficult task. He further says it is also a difficult task for doctors to provide “comprehensive treatment” to prisoners as many of those diagnosed with infections are kept in the barracks with the other inmates.

A number of captives are suffering from AIDS, Hepatitis in Punjab

Overcrowding has also been a challenge as the province’s 42 prisons house three times as many people as accommodation. The report indicates that the prisons house 272 prisoners with HIV/AIDS, 517 with hepatitis C, 137 with hepatitis B and 460 prisoners with diabetes mellitus.

Similarly, 59 inmates are mentally handicapped and among them, 12 were admitted to the Punjab Institute of Mental Health (PIMH) on the recommendations of doctors.

A major threat to prison inmates are drug addicts, who outnumber others. Many of them use intravenous drugs, the report says.

Data shows that 32 prisons in Punjab house 272 inmates with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), a seemingly incurable disease. The presence of such large numbers of HIV/AIDS patients in prisons has triggered major alarm.

According to medical experts, once a person contracts HIV, they have to live with HIV all their life and if HIV is left untreated, it can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).

Of the 272 HIV-AIDS patients reported, most (204) are prisoners on trial (UTP) and 64 sentenced prisoners (CTP), according to the report.

Of the total inmates, 92 HIV positive inmates are in four prisons in Rawalpindi region, including 68 in Rawalpindi Central Jail, three in Attock District Jail, 11 in Gujrat District Jail, eight in Jhelum district prison and two in Mandi Bahauddin district prison. .

The Lahore region has seven prisons where 61 patients suffer from HIV-AIDS. Among them, 32 prisoners are in Gujranwala district jail, six in Lahore central jail, three in Kasur district jail, seven in Lahore district jail, five in Sheikhpura district jails and in Sialkot and three in Narowal District Jail.

Prisons in Faisalabad area house 43 HIV/AIDS patients – 20 in Faisalabad Central Jail, 10 in Jhang District Jail, seven in Faisalabad District Jail and six in Toba District Jail Tek Singh, according to official figures.

As for the Sahiwal region, the file shows that 23 prisoners were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS infection. There are nine at Sahiwal Central Jail, eight at Pakpattan District Jail, five at Okara and one patient is reported at Vehari District Jail.

Out of 21 such prisoners reported in five jails in Sargodha region, seven are in Hafizabad district jail, six in Sargodha, five in Mianwali central jail, two in Bhakkar and one patient in Hafizabad district jail. Shahpur.

Similarly, 16 inmates with HIV/AIDS are reported in two prisons in Multan region, 11 inmates in the prisons in Bahawalpur region and five in the three prisons in DG Khan region.

Most prisoners are transported from prisons to courts in the pending cases filed against them, which creates an additional risk of transmitting the infection to others.

Similarly, 24 prisons in the province house 137 prisoners suffering from hepatitis B, another chronic infection that spreads quickly to others.

The report further shares an alarming number of prisoners suffering from Hepatitis C. It states that 517 prisoners tested positive for Hepatitis C in 33 prisons in Punjab.

Of the 460 prisoners diagnosed with diabetes in Punjab jails, many need insulin treatment to avoid health complications.

An official, Dr. Sibtain Mazhar, told Dawn that all possible measures were being taken to ensure treatment for prisoners suffering from illnesses. He said that the Punjab prison department has engaged the primary and secondary health care department for the treatment through its various programs.

“We also try to ensure the presence of doctors in the prisons to provide uninterrupted treatment to prisoners,” he said.

Posted in Dawn, May 9, 2022

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