Art in action: Detention health is public health

A t-shirt design competition

Around the world, the ICRC visits people detained in relation to the conflict to ensure their proper treatment and living conditions. But whatever the reason of their arrest/ detention, they are entitled to be treated humanely with respect for their mental and physical well-being.

Part of the ICRC’s work in places of detention is to collaborate with penitentiary and health authorities to improve inmates’ health condition and their access to quality health care. The ICRC works on specific interventions such as tuberculosis management, health information system projects, and regular monitoring visits to jails and prisons. It also works with higher levels of authorities to strengthen the penitentiary health system, in coordination with concerned institutions.

As part of the ICRC’s advocacy and sensitization campaign to increase awareness on various detention health issues, our mantra is: “Detention health is public health.”

(“Detention” is a collective term referring to custodial imprisonment and confinement in facilities such as prisons, jails, lock-ups, among others.)

It simply means that any initiative to make health care available and better for everyone, if done without the health care for detainees, it will block progress toward better health for everyone in the community.


What should the artwork be about?

  • Around 11 million people are held in penal institutions around the world, and approximately 189,000 people are behind bars in the Philippines. It is imperative to take care of detainees’ health as it also directly impacts the country’ health situation.
  • We all need to protect the inmates’ inherent dignity as human beings and treat them humanely, regardless of the reason of their arrest/ detention.
  • Places of detention are not isolated from the community. There is a continuous flow of movement: detainees goes to the court, are referred to the hospitals, and are eventually released from jail. Family members, detaining staff, and other visitors enter these facilities. During these visits, infectious diseases can be transmitted to the community and vice-versa.
  • Ensuring inmates’ good health, while in detention, can reduce the probability of outbreaks, and decrease mortality and medical referrals to external health services (less burden to the public health services), thus contributing to their rehabilitation.
  • Once detainees are released, it means they can contribute positively to society (economically and socially as well) instead of adding burden to the public health-care system or posing a health risk (e.g. spread of tuberculosis and other highly communicable diseases). It is necessary to assure continuity of care from the places of detention to the public health services to avoid interruption of treatment.
  • To achieve a good detainee’s health, a strong collaboration and coordination with the public health services are essential to implement proper health prevention and promotion activities and quality curative care. It is a matter of joining efforts and sharing expertise.
  • Health standards in jails and prisons must be at par with those available to citizens outside. Inmates’ access to health should not be considered a luxury. 


Who can join?
The contest is open to all, especially to college art students, amateur and professional graphic artists in the Philippines. There is no age limit.

Entries submitted should be from an individual and not from a group.

The winner will receive 25,000 Philippine Pesos.

Deadline for submission of entries: 30 September 2018, 5 p.m.



Art in Action T-shirt design contest mechanics

PDF file
194.92 KB

Art in Action T-shirt design entry form

PDF file
298.77 KB