Bangladesh: Protecting detainees from COVID-19
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."
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."
"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.
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.