Prison aptly termed as Correctional Facility, is an
establishment whose fundamental mission is to reform people who are at discord
to the point of posing a threat to themselves, their neighbours and their
community at large. Mr. S.K. Dogra, IPS, Head of the Tamil Nadu Prison
Department, elaborates to Medindia on the comprehensive health care facilities
available to prison inmates in the correctional institutions.
Q. How is the health care system in prisons different
from the hospitals for the general public?
Healthcare for prison inmates involves much more than just diagnosis and
medication. The majority of those admitted to the prisons have grown up in
circumstances that encourage the use of intoxicants and other unhealthy
substances. Many suffer from addictions. Also, the guilt feeling and the
feeling of rejection by the society at large affects the mental and physical
health of most inmates. So, healthcare program involves not just physical care
but also lifestyle changes and changes in thinking patterns. We have to make a
conscious effort to change the negativity of the prison atmosphere into
positivity by taking various steps.
Let me give you an idea of the medical infrastructure
available with us. Each of our 9 Central Prisons and 3 Special Prisons for
Women has an exclusive hospital with in-patient facility. Each hospital has two
doctors and adequate number of supporting medical staff. Diagnostic labs,
equipped with X-ray machines, ECG, blood analyser and auto glove etc., are
attached to these hospitals. In case the doctor in charge of the hospital feels
that the facilities available in the prison hospital are inadequate to handle
the specific medical condition of the inmate, he refers the inmate to the
Government hospital. Apart from this, frequent medical camps are conducted by
Annually medicines worth approximately Rs. 40/- lakhs
are used to treat the inmates.
Psychiatrists from nearby hospitals or medical
colleges make fortnightly visits to the hospitals to treat inmates suffering
from minor psychological problems.
Q. Do people undergo health screening before they
Before a person is admitted to a prison, he or she is thoroughly screened for
external and internal injuries. Also, risk-factors such as high or low blood
pressure, diabetes, heart trouble, AIDS, psychological problems etc. are
examined and treated. Persons who suffer from depression and severe feeling of
guilt are kept under observation. In case of need special diet is prescribed.
Q. What efforts have been taken in handling inmates
with HIV/AIDS or towards curbing virus transmission?
for HIV is a part of the initial screening. Those who test positive are kept
segregated from others. ICTC (Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre)
assists the medical authorities of the prisons in this regard.
Q. How are prison inmates educated on health?
education is one of the focus-areas of the lifestyle changes in the prisons.
Classes on Yoga, meditation, Art of Living and other such areas orient the
thinking of the prison inmates towards mental and physical health. They are
encouraged to break with their past and start a new life as healthy and useful
citizens of the world.
Q. How are the prison staffs trained?
Apart from the Foundation Course that a member of the Prison Department has to
undergo immediately on joining the Department, a number of in-service courses
are conducted from time to time. At the level of the Warders the emphasis in
these in-service courses is on physical stamina. We also send them for commando
courses. For the senior officials the focus is on soft-skills and reformation
techniques. They are trained at APCA (Academy of Prisons and Correctional
Administration) in Vellore, an institution jointly maintained by the four
Southern States of Andhra, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Q. In what aspects do the women's health care system
in prisons differ?
inmates in the Tamil Nadu prisons are supplied sanitary napkins free-of-cost.
These are manufactured by the women prison-inmates themselves. Children up to
the age of six are permitted to stay with their mothers in a crèche specially
maintained for them and provided with toys and other forms of entertainment. Children
are given milk and other special nourishments.
Medindia thanks Mr.
S.K. Dogra, IPS, Head of the Tamil Nadu Prison Department for sharing
information on the efforts taken towards the betterment of people in need of