The Medical Superintendent of the Nsawam Prisons, DSP Dr Lawrence Acheampong is calling on medical doctors across the country to assist in providing medical services to the over 15,000 inmates in the 46 prisons in Ghana.
According to him, the Ghana Prisons Service has other health professionals who help in healthcare delivery “but only two medical doctors are in charge of the 46 prisons which is not adequate”.
The two have been stationed at the Nsawam Medium Prisons in the Eastern Region and at the Senior Correctional Centre in Accra respectively.
Dr Acheampong reacting to the Ghana Medical Association who are alarmed by the health crisis in Ghana’s prisons on Onua FM today November 11, 2019, he said :
”The GMA identified overcrowding, drug abuse, poor diet and hygiene, infections and substandard healthcare in the prisons. We have only two medical doctors for prisoners in the country and we are calling on other doctors to come and assist us.Nsawam is the biggest prison in Ghana with over 3,500 inmates and I am there as the Medical Superintendent. The other is in Accra, our correctional centre and the training school, but the clinic is at the prison’s Correctional Centre so he is there”.
He further indicated that: “we have been stationed in these areas but when the need arises for us to visit other parts, we do”.
Dr Acheampong added that aside from the prisoners other people are also given medical attention
“we don’t carter for only prisoners. We cater for officers and their families and those living closer to the prisons and visitors. We have about 500 officers in Nsawam alone”.
He said apart from the inadequate medical doctors, they face logistical constraint since the facilities in these prison clinics are nothing to write home about.
”Our authorities are doing some restructuring. Our authorities have had some relief from the government. We have some arrangements with Korle-Bu who come periodically but the two doctors are not adequate so every doctor who wants to come and look after prisoners is welcomed”.
“The logistics are not adequate. Unlike the ones in other hospitals because the international standards says health status in prisons should be like or equivalent to other hospitals”, he added.
Commenting on diseases that are commonly reported at the various prisons, Dr Acheampong said one problem is the issue of overcrowding.
“We are in the tropics so we get cases of malaria. HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, hepatitis and other infectious diseases are all in the prisons. All the prisons are overcrowded with over 53% so we have skin infections”.
Dr Acheampong also said research has shown that prisoners are at high risk of developing mental conditions. Adding, he said the risk of developing mental condition is 20% due to the prison condition.