More than 245 ill prisoners across Pakistan await medical treatment as their cases remain pending before provincial home departments, according to a report by the Ministry of Human Rights.
Of these, 232 cases are from Sindh and the remaining 12 are from Punjab. The report was presented by Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari before the Islamabad High Court on Thursday. The report was recently made public.
According to the report, as many as 5,189 prisoners across the country were infected with lethal diseases such as HIV/Aids or Hepatitis C. Of these, 425 were infected with HIV/Aids while some 1,832 were suffering different forms of hepatitis.
It pointed to the lack of medical equipment and ambulances, untrained prison staff and inadequate coordination with health departments as major reasons behind these cases.
“There aren’t even separate washrooms for disabled and transgender people,” Mazari said.
“Although all strict and central prisons across Pakistan have hospitals, there is a lack of medical and technical equipment such as ECG machines, X-ray machines, ultra-sound machines, oxygen cylinders, dental units, laboratories and beds at these hospitals,” the report stated.
According to the Punjab Prison Department, 10% of the prisons of the province don’t have ambulances. On the other hand, the entire province of Balochistan only has four ambulances. In Sindh too, almost 200 prisoners were unable to receive medical assistance due to lack of ambulances.
Another major issue stated in the report was that the prison staff is not properly trained. “Balochistan does not have its own training centre for prison officials and staff,” it stated.
It also revealed that posts of paramedic staff have been vacant for a while due to “inadequate protection of staff and insufficient pay scales”.
Other problems include over-crowded prisons and lack of counseling and legal aid for prisoners.
Mazari, in a media talk after the hearing, said that these problems need to be brought forth.
The minister said that that the ministry has given a recommendation for the construction of separate cells for transgender people.
A report on the jail reforms has been sent to the court and it’s the court’s discretion now to decide on the matter, she added.