Rumphi prison inmates decry poor health service delivery

Rumphi, Some Rumphi Prison inmates have appealed to authorities at the facility to prioritize the access to reproductive health related services to the inmates.

The observation was made Wednesday at Rumphi Prison during a Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services outreach clinic by Hope for Relief Organization.

One of the inmates who spoke on condition of anonymity told Malawi News Agency that he is suffering from blood syphilis but has not been receiving treatment for the past ten months despite making several attempts to request authorities to take him to hospital.

I started suffering from blood syphilis before I came in here. I used to receive treatment before I was jailed. I have not been receiving treatment since I came here ten months ago because I am denied access to medical services, he explained.

The inmate said that he has been seeking permission to go to hospital for almost three times but the prison authorities ignored his request.

I have been seeking permission from authorities here but they have never allowed me to go to the hospital to seek medical attention regarding my situation, the inmate lamented.

The inmate alleged that he is denied authority to access medical attention because he is serving a long jail sentence of seven years and thinks the authorities assume that he can escape once taken to a health facility outside the prison.

I think this is so because I am one of the prisoners serving a long jail term and authorities assume that if they let me go outside then I can escape, but my request to access treatment was in good faith considering my condition, he explained.

Another inmate who also opted for anonymity said that most of the times inmates with chronic illnesses receive less attention compared to those who suffer common ailments.

According to the inmate, mostly diseases such as malaria, headache and chicken pox receive quick attention.

I was suffering from skin cancer until one of my toes was removed and now I am doing fine but to say the truth inmates who suffer from chronic diseases receive less attention when it comes to medical treatment, he said.

Commenting on the matter, Rumphi Prison Officer-In-Charge, Superintendent, Rajab Mota expressed ignorance on the inmates’ concerns saying that the requests regarding medical attention are addressed in good time.

I can confirm that my office makes sure that all requests are dealt with immediately and accordingly.

Regardless of a jail sentence a person is serving, health related issues cannot be compromised and we always assist everyone whenever need arises. May be, the request was not forwarded to me otherwise we prioritize health issues affecting our inmates, Mota said.

He said his office will investigate the alleged concerns to establish the truth and ensure that warders involved in such misconduct should be disciplined and the aggrieved party is assisted accordingly.

During the outreach clinic, the inmates had access to various SRH services such as antiretroviral therapy, viral load screening, sexual transmission infections screening and nutrition assessment, HIV and Aids psychotherapy and testing.

Hope for Relief Organization is implementing a one year for us All Prevention Project at Rumphi and Chitipa prisons with financial assistance from a Netherlands based organization, Hivos.

Source: MANA Online