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Philippines: newly renovated infirmary for TB-affected detainees

25-05-2012 News Release 12/108

Manila (ICRC) – Tuberculosis patients at Quezon City Jail will now have access to proper treatment and monitoring of their condition at a newly renovated and expanded facility.

The formal opening of the infirmary, which is 211 square metres in area and can accommodate up to 60 patients, will take place today. Support for its renovation was provided by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which also facilitates the implementation of the National TB Control programme in the jail, second largest of those administered by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), with a population of about 3,000 inmates.

"All inmates affected with TB used to be held in a small isolation room, which created a greater risk of detainees with multi-drug-resistant TB infecting others. Overcrowded detention facilities being an effective breeding ground for the spread of TB, the ICRC recognized the necessity of working with the jail authorities to improve infection control," said Dr Gegham Petrosyan, the ICRC's health coordinator in the Philippines.

The new facility has five treatment rooms, which enables patients to be separated by type of TB. It also has a medical office for the staff and a small room where sputum is collected, reducing the risk of infection. Treating multi-drug-resistant TB, which does not respond to two of the most efficient antibiotics, is more complicated than treating ordinary strains of TB, which can generally be cured in six or seven months.

"The jail will serve as an example of best practice in managing TB in Philippine detention facilities," said Petrosyan. "The relationship between the ICRC and the BJMP is constructive and open: the BJMP recognizes that the ICRC can bring added value, while the ICRC sees that the BJMP is open to discussing ways of bringing about positive change for all inmates."

The ICRC has been visiting Philippine jails for more than 50 years. Among the people it visits are those detained in connection with internal armed conflicts and other situations of violence. The objective of these visits is to monitor the conditions of detention and the treatment of detainees.

In 2007, the ICRC launched a call for action with a view to addressing overcrowding in jails, its causes and its consequences for the health and living conditions of detainees. The ICRC supports the programme for managing TB in prisons, which is implemented jointly by the BJMP and the Bureau of Corrections within the frame of the National TB Control programme administered by the Department of Health.

For further information, please contact:
Allison Lopez, ICRC Manila, tel: +63 908 868 68 84


Photos

Quezon City Jail, Philippines. The infirmary's rooms were built according to best practices for TB management and treatment. Good ventilation is essential, in order to reduce the risk of transmitting TB to others. 

Quezon City Jail, Philippines. The infirmary's rooms were built according to best practices for TB management and treatment. Good ventilation is essential, in order to reduce the risk of transmitting TB to others.
© ICRC / Sarah Velasco

Quezon City Jail, Philippines. Inmate  

Quezon City Jail, Philippines. Inmate "medical coordinators" are involved in the early detection of TB among the detainees. They help identify inmates who have been coughing for more than two weeks and report these cases to the jail health staff for proper diagnosis.
© ICRC / Sarah Velasco