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GDP wants ‘health posts’ resumed

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Inmates receive vaccinations against Covid-19 in Preah Sihanouk provincial prison in June last year. GDP

GDP wants ‘health posts’ resumed

The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Prisons (GDP) has requested the resumption of basic health facilities known as ‘health posts’ for detainees at Preah Sihanouk provincial prison, after they were postponed for two years.

The request was made by GDP deputy director Lim Sokha to provincial governor Cheav Vicheak at a May 3 meeting.

Sokha acknowledged the provincial administration’s previous support of the GDP in various matters. However, he said that during the pandemic, direct medical support to the prison through the health post had been neglected. Detainees had been made to seek treatment at the nearby Klaing Leu health centre instead.

Sokha requested a monthly visit by medical doctors to the prison after noticing the absence of a health post during a visit.

He also urged the provincial administration to cooperate on coming up with an action plan to install a health post in the prison and provide Covid-19 booster shots for detainees.

Vicheak said he supported the request for a health post in the prison. He said the postponement of the provision of medicine and a health post in the last two years was due to logistics problems posed by the pandemic.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director for rights group Licadho, said it was necessary to provide health posts at a minimum in all prisons. He noted there is currently a severe lack of such services, as well as medical doctors, to ensure the health of detainees, some of whom may be in poor or deteriorating health.

“If there is no quality health service in the prison, detainees could die before reaching the hospital if they have health problems,” he said.

A GDP spokesman contended that health posts had been installed in all prisons, but conceded that “some prisons still lack medicine and medical experts.”

He added that top GDP officials have been in discussions to upgrade health posts in Cambodian prisons. At M1 prison, commonly known as Prey Sar Men Section, there are “about 6,000-7,000” detainees and having just a health post “will not be enough for them”, he acknowledged.

“We are requesting that the Ministry of Health accept our proposal for Health Centres to be set up in big prisons such as M1 and Preah Sihanouk provincial prison. If there are only health posts, they will not have enough equipment and medicine,” the spokesman said.


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