Staff Reporter

  • Absence of doctors adds to woes of prisoners
  • Only three psychiatrists for a prison population of 15,000

    BHUBANESWAR: As many as 43 out of a total 70 jails in the State at present are without doctors.

    Absence of doctors is being experienced at a time when most of the jails are overcrowded, adding to the woes of inmates. Sources said only 17 jails (13 district and four circle jails) have doctors.

    Most of the jails are being managed by pharmacists and in some sub-jails of even these pharmacists are not present. Worse still, the State's 15,000-strong jail population is supervised by some three psychiatrists, the sources added.

    When making doctors available in all jails seemed to be a Herculean task, there are not even nurses to fill in facilitators' role. Inmates of sub-jails are referred to doctors only when their condition worsens. When it comes to healthcare of women prisoners, the situation is appalling. Not a single lady doctor is available to oversee 500 women inmates.

    Uphill task

    Taking a prisoner to a doctor is a cumbersome job.

    First, permission has to be obtained from court.

    The inmate is then taken to the doctor in a hired vehicle in the company of three warders.

    A couple of days ago, two undertrial prisoners of the Jharapada special jail in the capital died, the sources said. While an undertrial committed suicide, another died of illness in the capital hospital.

    As a way out, the prison authorities had mooted the idea of appointing retired doctors in jails to prevent illness from becoming fatal. However, there is little hope as the government has failed to get adequate retired doctors to manage public health centres in the poverty-stricken KBK region.

    While suggesting possible measures to improve healthcare system in jails, a group of senior prison officials on Friday impressed upon a House Committee on Women and Child Development to appoint lady doctors in jails or as a temporary measure, lady physicians could be diverted from public health centres.

    T. S. Chakrabarty, additional Inspector-General of Prison, said, "We are trying our best to provide them necessary healthcare with our limited resources. The healthcare sector in prisons needs more funds."