Less Than 100 Health Staff in Cambodia’s Prisons, Official Says

Ministries say they are cooperating to help meet inmates’ needs

Overcrowding and a lack of human resources leave each of the country’s prison health workers responsible for nearly 150 detainees, a prison official said yesterday.

There are only 96 health workers providing care to 13,957 inmates in Cambodia’s houses of detention, Liv Mauv, deputy director of the General Department of Prisons, said at a two-day seminar that began in Phnom Penh yesterday.

“Now we are trying to enhance the capacity of our staff at health centers,” Mr Mauv said, noting that so far this year 64 prisoners had died across the country compared to 60 deaths in all of 2009.

Most of those who died where old or chronically ill when entering prison, suffering from diseases such as high blood pressure, HIV and AIDS, acute watery diarrhea and tuberculosis, he said.

The overcrowding of prisons with detainees at nearly twice capacity contributes to poor health in prisons, he added.

The seminar, coordinated by the International Committee of the Red Cross, aimed to increase the cooperation between the interior and health ministries to improve prisoners’ health.

Bjorn Rahm, protection coordinator at the ICRC, said NGOs and the Health Ministry were working to raise the capacity of health workers to deal with the shortage. “What is clear is that the number of health staff is not yet sufficient enough or sufficiently qualified,” Mr Rahm said.

Nuth Sa An, secretary of state at the Interior Ministry, said that this year the health service for prisoners continued to face a lack of qualified health officials, medicine and equipment at prisons.

“There is also not good cooperation between the prison health service and public health service, especially services concerning TB and HIV,” Mr San An said.

The Health Ministry this year accredited 21 more prison clinics as health posts in addition to four already in existence, said Team Bak Khim, deputy director of the National Center for TB and Leprosy Control.


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