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No Special Package  for Prisoners’ Health
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No Special Package for Prisoners’ Health

No financial provision for prisoners’ health has been made in next year’s budget bill (starts March 21), said Seyed Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi, health minister during his visit to Ghezel Hesar Prison, the largest state prison in the country.
The Health Reform Plan launched in May 2014 has targeted all social groups, but “we don’t have a special package for prisoners and are not able to offer them separate services.”
He said the major problem is lack of insurance coverage. “Prison doctors work hard but their salary is very low (about $380) and unfortunately there is no insurance coverage for them.”
“It’s bad to be in prison and people should try not to commit crimes to prevent being in the lock-up,” he said. With 12 to 14 people in a tiny space of 6-sq meters, living conditions are harsh, and it can even cause the spread of diseases.  The prison’s per capita space is unbelievable: less than 0.5 meter,” IRNA quoted Hashemi as saying.
He also said health services, food quality, and average staff per prisoner “are also very low and should be improved.”
To improve prison health conditions, priority should be given to improve capitation. At present, the daily capitation or payment arrangement for health care service providers such as physicians or nurse practitioners is $ 0.17 in the country’s prisons, while it is $28 in rural areas. By correcting the capitation rates, physicians and nurses would be encouraged to serve in prisons, he said. “Also increase in space is needed. The space per capita should be at least one meter.”
“We will not neglect prisons, but we cannot solve the problems alone, without cooperation of other organization; all should help in this regard,” Hashemi stressed.

 Diseases
There are prisoners with AIDS and resistant tuberculosis disease who are under the special care of physicians. “Unfortunately the process of disease detection in prisons is not desirable. Due to the lack of facilities and funds, the time-interval between detection, testing and treatment is long. The diagnostic and tracking devices are also old.
The government and Majlis (parliament) should consider adequate funding to solve the problems.
In a meeting with the heads of the State Prisons Organization and the judiciary “we will discuss the measures that the health ministry plans to take to improve health of prisoners,” the minister said.
Although no budget provision for prisoners’ health has been made, however, physicians have been philanthropic in matters of disease detection and treatment. “But to achieve optimal services, funding is essential,” he stressed.

 

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