The Financial Express

ICRC assists BD to tackle spread of coronavirus in prisons

Published: April 05, 2020 18:29:03 | Updated: April 05, 2020 20:19:56

-Reuters file photo -Reuters file photo

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Bangladesh has joined hands together with the prison directorate and the home ministry to enhance the preparedness of the 68 prisons across the country to prevent the transmission of coronavirus.

It has also started implementing infection prevention control measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus in the prisons, ICRC said on Sunday, reports UNB.

The first batch of such materials was handed over to the prison authorities on Thursday at the country’s central prison in Keraniganj.

Detention facilities in general are particularly vulnerable when it comes to preventing and containing infectious diseases, said the ICRC.

An outbreak of COVID-19 in a prison could have devastating effects on the population, especially in an overcrowded prison where the health care system is weakened.

One case can quickly spread amongst the prison population, affecting both detainees and prison staff alike, according to ICRC.

Simona Cervi, ICRC Bangladesh Detention team leader said they aim to support the prison authorities with recommendations on how to improve the response of coronavirus, and direct support to ensure that a comprehensive response to face the outbreak is put in place, in line with the ICRC guidelines and National Preparedness and Response Plan for COVID-19 in Bangladesh.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) would be adopted in the prisons both for the primary medical response while ensuring and enforcing compliance with Infection Control and Prevention and hygiene promotion, said ICRC.

Additionally, the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) volunteers would be involved in training the key staff of the prisons; and the newly trained staff 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, according to ICRC.

The Inspector General (IG) of Prisons Brigadier General AKM Mustafa Kamal Pasha welcomed ICRC's assistance in preventing infections relating to COVID-19 and said they 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.

The ICRC said they are continuously working to strengthen the overall prison health system through activities such as improving access to health care for inmates.

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