Side event at CCPCJ 2022 celebrates significant step in ensuring access to comprehensive HIV and sexual and reproductive health care for women in prison
18 May 2021 – Vienna – At a side event during the 31st session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ), UNODC together with UNAIDS and WHO and the Permanent Missions of Sweden and Norway introduced the newly developed tool to monitor and evaluate epidemiological trends in vertical transmission in prison settings and service availability to prevent such transmission. Supplementing UNODC’s Technical Guide on Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission in Prisons, this tool is intended to support countries in collecting data on relevant healthcare services for women in prison and integrating these into national health information systems to inform policy and strategy development.
“Many factors including multiple stigma and discrimination hinder women from accessing prison healthcare programmes and interventions, if indeed these are adequately implemented. Often such programmes do not take into account women’s specific health care needs, including sexual and reproductive health. As a result, more children born in prison are at risk of being infected with HIV”, said H.E. Ms Kjersti Ertresvaag Andersen, Ambassador of the PM of Norway to the United Nations in Vienna in her opening remarks.
Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Director of the Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs at UNODC, noted that prison health data, especially on women, are often missing from public health data, which is why women in prison often do not receive gender-specific care. Alternatively, any care they do receive might not be visible to governments, civil society organizations or the public.
In a video message, Suki Beavers, Director of the Policy, Advocacy and Knowledge Branch, Equality and Rights for All Practice Department at UNAIDS, stressed the importance of engaging women living with HIV and eliminating new HIV infections in infants, especially in prison settings where mothers often have no autonomy even for meeting their own health needs.
Dr Morkor Newman Owiredu, Medical Officer at WHO called for commitment and collaboration in achieving elimination of mother-to-child transmission (EMTCT) in prisons. Karima Benamara and Cinzia Brentari outlined the development of the new monitoring tool, which was field tested in Indonesia before finalization, and Dr Hetty Widiastuti, Coordinator of Special Healthcare and Rehabilitation, Directorate General of Corrections, Indonesia, shared country experience and the field-testing process.
In his closing words, Jonas Gräns, First Secretary of the PM of Sweden, expressed “our hope that this monitoring tool will contribute to updating countries’ health strategies to achieve our goal of zero children born with HIV, irrespective of where they are born and live”.
For more information, please contact:
Ehab Salah, MD, MPH
Adviser, Prisons and HIV / UNAIDS focal point
HIV/AIDS Section, UNODC