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Justice minister announces measures to improve prison health care, comments on protests

Δημοσίευση 1 Δεκεμβρίου 2010, 09:31 / Ανανεώθηκε 27 Ιουνίου 2013, 14:55
Justice minister announces measures  to improve prison health care,  comments on protests
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Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis on Monday announced measures to improve health care in prisons amid an uneasy climate and rumours of imminent protest action in the country's correctional facilities.

Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis on Monday announced measures to improve health care in prisons amid an uneasy climate and rumours of imminent protest action in the country's correctional facilities.

The minister said that protests so far were confined to the Korydallos, Patras and Grevena prisons, out of 33 correctional facilities in total, where some inmates were not taking meals.

The minister announced the start of collaboration with university hospitals throughout the country and with recognised non-governmental organisations to arrange for voluntary psychiatric care and other medical services in prisons. Also present as he made the announcement were the directors of hospitals and representatives of the NGOs involved.

Arrangements for the programme to provide psychiatric support to inmates were made earlier this month, while psychiatrists and other specialists have already begun visiting prisons and examining inmates.

The Athens School of Medicine, meanwhile, has begun a pilot programme for the prevention and control of TB at Korydallos prison as part of its post-graduate programme, in collaboration with Doctors of the World and the prison's Agios Pavlos hospital.

This will include screening for TB, chest x-rays for inmates that test positive in the Mantoux test and taking samples from 'suspect' incidents in order to reduce incidents of TB in the prison population and prevent its spread to the general population.

Doctors of the World, meanwhile, will send a team of doctors to Grevena prison for a week to provide full medical check-ups to all the inmates there, as well as visits to Korydallos and Grevena before the end of the year to assess the situation in both prisons.

Inmates at the women's prison in Elaionas are to be given free breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings as part of another pilot programme, while children held with their mothers at Elaionas and Korydallos prisons are to be given a development assessment by doctors from Agia Sophia children's hospital.

Kastanidis said that the ministry intends to buy a portable digital x-ray machine for the Agios Pavlos prisoners' hospital to help in the diagnosis of TB. Doctors noted that the number of prisoners with TB in Greek prisons is currently small and that the health measures aim to prevent the spread of the disease.

Commenting on prison protests, meanwhile, Kastanidis suggested in statements on Monday that these were being incited by "certain parties that want things in prisons to remain stagnant, motionless, because if they are stagnant and motionless they will have allies that they can mobilise."

Feeling threatened by the current leadership that was trying to make the prison system more humane, these parties were trying to engineer conditions of crisis, the minister asserted.

Kastanidis noted that letters signed by specific lawyers on behalf of specific initiatives were circulating in prisons in recent weeks, urging prisoners to protest and had been systematically distributed to inmates throughout the prison system. He pointed out that this was happening at a time when a series of major reforms to improve prison conditions was about to be voted on in Parliament.

The inmates joining in the protests have made 12 demands, some of which authorities consider unrealistic and extreme, such as a demand that those serving life sentences be released after 12 years imprisonment.