NHSO takes on Bang Kwang

The 6,000 prisoners at Bang Kwang are to start receiving regular checkups to prevent the spread of disease, specifically TB. (File photo)

The medical unit at Bang Kwang Central Prison in Nonthaburi has been registered with the National Health Security Office (NHSO), in a move aimed at boosting healthcare services for inmates.

Secretary-general Sakchai Kanjanawatana said a NHSO Region 4 panel approved registering the prison’s healthcare facility as a contracting unit for primary care (CUP), primary care unit (PCU) as well as a referral unit in the 2019 fiscal year, which starts Oct 1.

As a result, Bang Kwang Central Prison would become the country’s first detention facility to be registered under the NHSO.

The agreement was signed Wednesday by Corrections Department director-general, Naras Savestanan, and Dr Sakchai. Dr Sakchai said inmates would have better access to healthcare services, including health promotion and disease prevention.

They would also be eligible for medical checks for signs of ill health and consultations for disease prevention, he said.

The NHSO will play a role in handling services at the facility to ensure inmates have better access to healthcare services, Dr Sakchai said.

“There are about 6,000 inmates at the prison. The detainees can choose to be registered to receive services, which could improve their quality of life,” said Dr Sakchai, adding the prisoners would be entitled to better healthcare services.

The move would also ease a burden on prison warders who have to take care of the detainees, he said.

Registration with the NHSO would also allow the prison’s healthcare facility to receive financial support based on head count, according to Dr Sakchai.

The NHSO secretary-general said the government has made it clear that it wants to stem the spread of tuberculosis in prisons across the country as these facilities hold a huge number of detainees, including many who are infected.

Under NHSO supervision, prisoners would be checked for tuberculosis and those infected must undergo a course of treatment lasting three to six months, he said, adding those who recover must be regularly checked afterwards.

Other prison healthcare are scheduled to be registered in the future when they are ready.

“The aim is also to assure the international community that Thailand takes care of prisoners in line with human right principles,” Dr Sakchai said.

Pranangklao Hospital deputy director, Direk Deesiri, said Bang Kwang prison’s medical unit has long been supervised and budgeted by his hospital.

Registration with the NHSO would enable prisoners to have access to additional services, including disease prevention and health checks, he said.

Those suffering from particular diseases or need operations can be referred to Pranangklao Hospital or other facilities that treat special cases, he said.

Pol Col Naras said about 1,000 inmates die each year and another 50,000 need to be referred to hospitals for treatment.

The top three diseases found among detainees are tuberculosis, Aids and coronary artery disease, he said.

He also said the national prison population is three times over capacity, meaning inmates are more at risk of contracting diseases. A cell now has more than 100 prisoners, who must spend 14 hours a day in their sleeping quarters, he said.

Efforts are being made to ensure prisoners are taken care of in line with humanitarian principles, he added.

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