Shortage of doctors has an impact on detainees’ access to necessary assistance, IDOM

The shortage of human resources in Moldova’s penitentiary institutions, both qualified medical personnel and surveillance and security staff, impacts the prisoners’ access to the necessary assistance and the quality of this assistance. In spite of the fact that the detention conditions are appropriate in closed-type institutions, the guarantee of medical examination as an element of torture prevention is implemented the worst and there is a risk of conviction if the cases are not well documented, Svetlana Doltu, an expert in the management of public health and health in detention places, stated when presenting a report on ill-treatment in detention places produced by the Moldovan Institute for Human Rights (IDOM).  

In a news conference at IPN, the expert said that attempts made to ensure a dialogue between ministries on the distribution of staff to penitentiaries made insignificant progress. “The distribution and assignment of medical staff are a systemic problem that affects the persons’ access to medical services and ends with ill-treatment namely for this reason,” stated Svetlana Doltu.

The IDOM experts who visited detention places ascertained that the conditions for providing medical assistance to detainees remain insufficient. The witnessed stigmatization and discrimination have an impact on the detainees’ right to health. Conditions for protecting medical information are insufficiently ensured. The experts also determined that there is no clear procedure for monitoring the period of validity of medicines, with a large number of expired drugs being found in the medical office.

As the number of persons who suffer from cancer increased, palliative care services should be provided in the penitentiary system or in the community of prisoners. The IDOM report shows that the release of persons from jail on grounds of serious illness is not applied. The decision concerning freeing from punishment is based not only on the state of the person and the medical certificate, but is also conditional on the obtaining of administrative permits from services responsible for prison security.

The shortage of human staff identified in penitentiary institutions is typical also of other closed-type institutions. For example, the temporary placement center for foreigners of the Migration and Asylum Bureau eliminated the post of medical staff even if it is a detention place in which the state is obliged to ensure unhampered access to medicine,” stated Svetlana Doltu.

According to the expert, the communication between the medical service of the Ministry of Home Affairs and its remand prions is based rather on the detention conditions and no one fully determines the quality of medical services, the types of available services and the medicines that are used or not used.

IDOM executive director Vanu Jereghi said the authorities should be requested to implement the international recommendations saying that the medical staff of closed-type institutions should be under the management of the Ministry of Health.

To establish how the guarantees for the prevention of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment in detention places are effectively ensured and to also identify inter-sector problems, the IDOM experts visited institutions subordinated to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Health in October - December 2021.

The conference forms part of the series of conferences held as part of IPN News Agency’s project “Support for the Justice Reform through multimedia coverage of cases of alleged injustice”. The Agency does not bear responsibility for the public statements made in the public sphere by the organizers of news conferences. IPN News Agency gives the right of reply to persons who consider they were touched by the news items produced based on statements of the organizers of the given news conference, including by facilitating the organization of another news conference in similar conditions.

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