Bangladesh: Protecting detainees from COVID-19

Bangladesh: Protecting detainees from COVID-19

An outbreak of COVID-19 in a prison could have devastating effects on both the detainees and the staff, especially in an overcrowded facility where the health-care system is already burdened.
Article 09 April 2020 Bangladesh

Working to enhance the preparedness of 68 prisons across Bangladesh in the face of a possible outbreak of novel coronavirus, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has begun implementing infection-control and prevention measures together with the Prison Directorate and the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Simona Cervi, who leads the ICRC team responsible for visits to detention facilities in Bangladesh, said, "We are supporting the prison authorities by sharing recommendations on ways to improve their preparedness in view of the pandemic. One of the ways is to help put in place a comprehensive response in line with the ICRC guidelines and National Preparedness and Response Plan for COVID-19 in Bangladesh."

 

ICRC engineers show the prison guards how to prepare the chlorine solution. R.Sircar/ICRC
ICRC engineers show the prison guards how to prepare the chlorine solution. R.Sircar/ICRC

The ICRC recently distributed items for disinfection and organized an on-the-spot training session at country's central prison in Keraniganj. These items are in line with the ICRC standards and are necessary to implement the disinfection programme. The training was well-received by the prison staff.

Appreciating the support extended by the ICRC, Iqbal Kabir Chowdhury, the senior jail super at central prison, said: "It is a huge responsibility for prison officials to ensure that no detainee is infected. We are happy that the ICRC is providing these materials as well as the training and we hope that this support will continue."

ICRC engineer helps a prison staff wear the special protective mask during the chlorine mixing exercise. R.Sircar/ICRC
ICRC engineer helps a prison staff wear the special protective mask during the chlorine mixing exercise. R.Sircar/ICRC

"It is a huge responsibility for prison officials to ensure that no detainee is infected"
— Iqbal Kabir Chowdhury

Meanwhile, the authorities stated that Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) would be adopted in the prisons both for primary medical response and compliance with infection control and prevention as well as hygiene promotion.

Additionally, the volunteers of Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) would be involved in training the key staff members at the prisons. Those trained would pass on the information to other employees, the detainees and the visitors. It is expected that every jail would be capable of autonomously putting in place the COVID-19 response measures as agreed with the authorities.

An ICRC engineer shows a prison staff the instruction poster on how to prepare Chlorine solution, pasted on the entrance wall. R.Sircar/ICRC
An ICRC engineer shows a prison staff the instruction poster on how to prepare Chlorine solution, pasted on the entrance wall. R.Sircar/ICRC

The Inspector General (IG) of Prisons, Brigadier General AKM Mustafa Kamal Pasha, welcomed ICRC's assistance in preventing the spread of COVID-19, and said, "We look forward to ICRC's continued support and cooperation for prisoners' health care in future as well."

The ICRC has been working with the Government of Bangladesh to improve the conditions and treatment afforded to detainees in prisons since 2014. It is continuously working to strengthen the overall prison health system through activities such as improving access to health care for inmates.