From the Plan to the Policy: Brazil seeks to improve the healthcare services for individuals deprived of liberty
10 April 2012 - Overcrowding, violence, inadequate natural illumination and ventilation, lack of medical services, associated with inadequate personal hygiene and nutrition, and limited access to drinking water - all these problems increase the vulnerability of individuals deprived of liberty to HIV and other infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, hepatitis, leprosy, among other, increasing morbidity and mortality rates in prisons.
In order to improve the services of prevention, promotion, and comprehensive healthcare of individuals deprived of liberty, the Brazilian Ministries of Health and Justice launched the Inter-ministerial Working Group (GTI) and the Intersectoral Technical Committee for Healthcare in the Prison System. The main goal of the GTI will be to develop a National Policy on Healthcare in the Prison System, in addition to expand the dialogue on prison healthcare among diverse sectors of the Executive.
The Group and the Committee were launched at the opening of the seminar "From the Plan to the Policy: ensuring the right to health for all people in the prison system". The seminar covered various issues, such as the National Prison Policy and the Healthcare System; Healthcare for Women and Children in Prisons; Mental Healthcare in Prisons Settings; the Challenges of Intersectoral Work; What does Healthcare have to do with Justice?; and Achievements and Challenges of the Healthcare in the Brazilian Prison System, among other.
Currently, 3.8% of the Brazilian population, i.e. about 500 thousand people (93% male), are deprived of liberty, and live in 1.771 prison units.
The development of a National Policy on Healthcare in the Prison System strengthens the partnership between the Ministries of Health and Justice, which began with the National Plan for Healthcare in the Prison System, launched in 2003 with the aim to ensuring the constitutional right to health and access with equity, comprehensiveness and universality, and to organize activities and healthcare services in prison settings.
Invited to be part of the Intersectoral Technical Committee, UNODC will be able to support the Inter-Ministerial Working Group in the elaboration of the National Policy on Healthcare in the Prison System.
As a guardian of the three conventions on drugs, UNODC works to guarantee universal access to health services - a fundamental human right, regardless of social condition or legal situation of individuals. Towards that end, UNODC directs its efforts to guarantee access to treatment for problematic drug users and to guarantee full and comprehensive healthcare services in prisons settings.