The Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) conducted a meeting on Health and Human Rights in Prisons with key stakeholders from government and civil society at Cara Lodge, Georgetown on Wednesday, 30 January 2013.
The purpose of the meeting was to develop collaborative mechanisms to address the main challenges and gaps in strengthening the application of public health principles in the prison setting in Guyana.
The objectives of the meeting were:
1. To summarize current mechanisms to maintain health and prevent and control diseases in prisons in Guyana.
2. To discuss the main challenges and gaps faced in the country in the context of health in prisons;
3. To present an overview of the recent activities developed by PAHO in the context of health and human rights in prisons; and
4. To identify next steps to be taken in order to develop joint activities/programs engaging all relevant ministries to improve health and human rights conditions in prisons, in line with PAHO Resolution CD50.R8.
At the meeting, technical presentations were made by Dr. Jeetendra Mohanlall, NTP Manger and Dr. Shanti Singh, Programme Manager, NAPS who presented and TB and HIV Programs in prisons respectively. Ms Sandra Del Pino, Human Rights Specialist, PAHO/WHO HQ also presented on Health and Human Rights in the context of deprivation of liberty, and PAHO’s technical cooperation activities. During Ms Del Pino’s presentation, she alluded to the Inter-American Commission of Human Right document which includes presentation from Guyana made at the Second Regional Seminar on Best Prison Practices which was held in Jamaica in December 2011.
Dr. Beverley Barnett, PAHO/WHO Representative in her opening remarks noted that Guyana has ratifies several United Nations and Inter-American human rights convention including CD.50 R.8. and in fulfilling its obligations, Guyana has recognised that people interacting with the justice system, despite the fact that they eventually might be found guilty of having committed crimes, are still people, human beings and deserving of their basic human rights.
Minister of Health, Dr. Bherri Ramsaran in his remarks noted that the first batch of Ministry-trained nurses have been deployed to prisons infirmaries and other locations. He also revealed that a “Prison Nursing” module is being drafted for the nursing school. According to Dr. Ramsaran, the meeting was a fledging effort which is worthy of support and should only be expected to lay the foundation for change and improvement in the systemic delivery of health care.
During the conclusion of the meeting, a group was tasked to put together a plan on the way forward.
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