Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries

Prisoners share the same right to health and well-being as other people

14 -17  August 2016 - Teheran, Iran

A regional advocacy and capacity building workshop on HIV/AIDS Prevention, Care and Treatment in Prison Settings was jointly organized by UNODC's Regional Programme (RP) for Afghanistan and Neighboring Countries, the Drug Control Headquarters (DCHQ) and Iranian State Prison Organization (ISPO) from 14 th till 17 th August 2016 in Teheran, Iran.

The objective of the workshop was to enhance the capacity of participants on comprehensive HIV prevention in prison settings through providing them knowledge and skills. The training was inaugurated by Dr. Parviz Afshar, Deputy of Demand Reduction and Development of Public Participation - DCQH. , who stated that approximately 50,000 prison inmates in the Islamic Republic of Iran are on pharmacological assisted drug treatment.  Dr. Mehrzad Tashakorian, Director General of Health and treatment, ISPO underlined the need to foster and strengthen collaboration and integration among all stakeholders, including the Ministry of Health and other Ministries with responsibilities in prisons, as well as civil society and community-based service providers.  

UNODC stated that its work is aimed at ensuring efforts are intensified at the country, regional and global levels to tackle the large gaps and disparities existing in HIV response in prisons. Twenty three national HIV/AIDS prevention mangers and prison officials from Regional Programme countries participated in this workshop.

While presenting the country's report on drug-related HIV prevention programmes in prison settings, almost all the countries highlighted the need for training of prison staff and data collection. They also outlined the need for collaboration between the Regional Programme countries in transfer of knowledge and expertise. UNODC stressed the importance of giving due consideration of the Human Rights prisoners and discussed the following four key points in details; 1) equivalence of health, 2) medical ethics, 3) occupational health, and 4) determinants of health. In addition, fifteen key interventions for prevention of HIV among people who inject drugs were discussed in detailed by UNODC. 

Case studies from the Islamic Republic of Iran and Kyrgyz Republic were presented. Both countries highlighted that success of HIV prevention in prison setting was due to better coordination between the different government departments, training of staff, data collection, involvement of civil society organizations and provision of comprehensive HIV prevention services in prison settings including pharmacological treatment of opiate drug users. 

A visit to a prison was also organized to witness provision of services and their effectiveness. Participants were impressed by the professionalism of prison staff and quality of services being provided to the prison inmates.  The participants took keen interest in pharmacological treatment of opiate users and asked number of questions. 

Recommendations made by the participants included greater collaboration between the Regional Programme countries in capacity building, data collection and services provision specially related to pharmacological treatment of opiate users.  It was also recommended that countries like the Islamic Republic of Iran with a well-established HIV prevention programme in prison settings should take lead in capacity building of national staff of neighboring countries.  It was agreed, as a first step, (under the Regional Programme), the  Islamic Republic of Iran will provide technical support to  Afghanistan and Tajikistan  to develop effective HIV prevention programme in prison settings. 

UNODC thanked Finland for funding the workshop.