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Peru: South American experts and authorities attend international seminar on prison health

11-09-2006 News Release 06/53

For five days, experts and authorities from Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay and Peru will be exchanging their experiences during an international seminar on prison health, which gets under way today, 11 September, in Lima, Peru. It will deal with various problems concerning health in the prison environment.

The subjects to be tackled include: basic elements involved in setting up a health system inside prisons, the structure and functioning of such a system and its ties to the public health sector, the control of tuberculosis and the treatment of HIV/AIDS.

The incidence of diseases such as tuberculosis can be up to one hundred times higher inside prison walls than among the population at large; this can be due to overcrowding, cramped living conditions, the absence of early detection of the disease, or the haphazard treatment and consequent resistance of the disease to drugs. The situation in prisons, which constitute veritable reservoirs of tuberculosis, is closely linked with public health, given the population that ebbs and flows between the confines of the prison and the outside world, and which can spread the disease in both environments.

A targeted examination of health problems within prisons will make it easier to find appropriate solutions. Given this, the organizers believe that the exchange of experiences is a positive move and brings the problems more clearly into focus. For Peru and Bolivia, sharing these experiences is of particular importance as both countries are currently restructuring their penal health systems.

Presentations will be made by, among others, Hernán Reyes, an ICRC doctor with more than 20 years'experience of visiting prisons around the world; members of Doctors Without Borders; health directors from the penal systems of the participating countries; health professionals working in prisons; and experts from the health ministries of the participating countries.

The seminar is being held by the Peruvian National Prison Institute and the ICRC, and is the first of its kind that the ICRC has helped organize on the continent.


For further information, please contact:
  Dafne Martos, Miguel Mantilla, ICRC, Lima, tel: + 511 241 99 04 or + 51 1 932 99 735
  Annick Bouvier, ICRC, Geneva, tel: + 41 22 730 24 58 ó + 41 79 217 32 24