By Ben Cal, PNA and U.S. News Agency / Asian
Inmates at the Quezon City Jail suffering from tuberculosis can now be assured of proper treatment of the disease with the completion of the renovation of its expanded infirmary, courtesy of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Allison Lopez, spokesperson of ICRC in Manila, told the Philippines News Agency that the TB infirmary, which was formally inaugurated on Friday, can accommodate up to 60 patients.
The ICRC fully supports the implementation of the National TB Control Program for jail detainees.
The facility is administered by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).
Dr. Gregham Petrosyan, ICRC health coordinator in the Philippines, said all inmates affected with TB used to be held in a small isolation room, which posed a greater risk of affecting other detainees.
Overcrowded detention facilities are breeding ground for the spread of TB, thus the ICRC recognized the necessity of working with the jail authorities to improve infection control, he said.
The new facility has five treatment rooms, which enable patients to be separated by type of TB. It also has a medical office for the staff and a small room where sputum is collected, reducing the risk of infection.
Treating multi-drug-resistant TB, which does not respond to two of the most efficient antibiotics, is more complicated than treating ordinary strains of TB, which can generally be cured in six or seven months.
The jail will serve as an example of best practice in managing TB in Philippine detention facilities, Petrosyan added.
He further said that the relationship between the ICRC and the BJMP is constructive and open, adding that the BJMP recognizes that the ICRC can bring added value, while the ICRC sees that the BJMP is open to discussing ways of bringing about positive change for all inmates.
Lopez said that the ICRC has been visiting Philippine jails for more than 50 years already.
Among the people it visits are those detained in connection with internal armed conflicts and other situations of violence. The objective of these visits is to monitor the conditions of detention and the treatment of detainees.
In 2007, the ICRC launched the Call for Action initiative with a view to addressing overcrowding in jails, its causes and its consequences for the health and living conditions of detainees.
The ICRC supports the program for managing TB in prisons, which is implemented jointly by the BJMP and the Bureau of Corrections within the framework of the National TB Control program administered by the Department of Health.