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Health Crisis in Jails: Punjab Jails Grapple with Soaring HIV & Hepatitis Cases among Prisoners
Published : Aug 2, 2023, 1:10 pm IST
Updated : Aug 2, 2023, 1:10 pm IST
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 Health Crisis in Punjab Jails
Health Crisis in Punjab Jails

High Prevalence of Serious Diseases Uncovered in Prisoner Health Examination

CHANDIGARH: A Health Examination conducted by the Punjab government has revealed a distressing situation within the state's prisons, with prisoners suffering from various serious diseases, including HIV. According to the findings, a staggering 951 inmates have tested positive for HIV, while 4,846 individuals are battling hepatitis B and C, in addition to sexually transmitted infections. This harrowing revelation came to light during an inter-departmental high-level meeting, chaired by Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr. Balbir Singh, at the National Health Mission office.

The meeting witnessed the participation of senior officials from multiple departments, including the Health Department, Jail Department, and Social Security, Women, and Child Development Department. Dr. Balbir Singh emphasized the need for appropriate treatment for prisoners found to be afflicted with sexually transmitted infections, tuberculosis, syphilis, HIV, and positive for Hepatitis C.

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The Comprehensive health examination campaign covered a total of 33,682 prisoners, of whom 916 (2.7 percent) were diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Syphilis tests were conducted on 24,404 prisoners, with 168 (0.7 percent) testing positive for the disease. Furthermore, 23,879 prisoners underwent HIV testing, revealing that 923 (3.9 percent) were HIV positive. Additionally, 33,576 prisoners were screened for tuberculosis, and 143 (0.7 percent) were diagnosed with the disease. Testing for Hepatitis-B and Hepatitis-C was performed on 20,904 and 21,299 prisoners, respectively, with 43 (0.7 percent) found to have Hepatitis-B and a shocking 4,846 (23 percent) identified as Hepatitis-C positive.

In light of these alarming findings, the special secretary of the health department, Dr. Karthik Adapa, stressed the importance of evidence-based prevention and treatment services in prisons, children's homes, de-addiction, and rehabilitation centers. A proposal presented by Prachi Shukla, Country Director of World Health Partners, emphasized the significance of mental health screening, counseling, and referral services for prison inmates. The proposed initiative is set to be implemented in four central jails of Punjab in collaboration with the Health Department of the Punjab Government.

Additionally, Health Minister Balbir Singh urged ADGP Jail Arun Pal Singh to identify and take appropriate action against corrupt officers within the jail department, in order to combat the issue of drugs within prison walls effectively.

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During the meeting, the Health Minister also recommended measures to establish drug-free villages and emphasized the importance of evaluating the services provided by existing rehabilitation and de-addiction centers (SUDTCs). Furthermore, he appealed to village panchayats, mohalla committees, and non-governmental organizations to unite in making Punjab a drug-free state.
 

Location: India

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ROZANA SPOKESMAN

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