Madagascar: Dental care for women detainees to coincide with International Women’s Day

Manjakandriana prison, located 42km to the east of the capital Antananarivo, currently houses 30 women detainees. On 8 March, to coincide with International Women's Day, the ICRC, working with the prison authorities and the Analamanga regional health department, provided free oral health advice and dental care to all the female inmates.

"This was an opportunity to highlight the specific challenges faced by women in detention in Madagascar and the importance of respecting their rights. One of those fundamental rights is access to health care," said Siaka Konaté, ICRC medical delegate in Antananarivo.

As well as promoting oral hygiene, the team offered female detainees free dental care – check-ups and tooth extractions – and medicines.

The Ministry of Health medical team prepares for the oral health day in Manjakandriana prison. The toothbrushes on the table will be used to teach inmates about oral hygiene. CC BY-NC-ND/ICRC/Rolin Charles Ralaivao

This is not the first time such an initiative has been taken in Madagascar. The Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Health, with ICRC support, have previously worked together on several occasions to provide health care to detainees. Inmates at Antanimora and Tsiafahy prisons, for instance, benefited from similar oral health days in 2014.

While such initiatives enable the prison authorities to address several health issues affecting the prison population, the underlying challenge is to put in place a sustainable health-care system that functions all year round. Ultimately, the goal is that all inmates in detention facilities in Madagascar will have access to health care.