The Ho Central Prison infirmary has been upgraded to a health centre to properly serve the health needs of inmates and officers of the prison.
To enable the centre operate effectively some members of Parliament, especially from the Volta Region, have presented medical equipment worth GH¢65,780 to the prison.
The medical equipment, including beds, thermometers, stretchers, stethoscopes, sterilisers and computers were purchased from donations of the members of Parliament from both political divides, led by the Member of Parliament for Afadjato South, Ms Angela Alorwu-Tay.
Health care needs
Speaking during the presentation, the Director-General of the Ghana Prisons Service, Mr Patrick Darko Missah, said the health care needs of inmates were important to the government.
It was for this reason that inmates were enrolled on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) for free medical care.
Over the years the prisons service, he said, had been striving towards the attainment of the globally accepted standard of healthcare management of patients but could not do it alone without support.
He commended the members of Parliament for providing the support to enable the Ho prison to provide quality health care to officers and inmates, indicating that the support would go a long way to reduce the risk officers went through in seeking medical care for inmates.
The Volta Regional Prisons Commander, Deputy Director of Prisons, Mr Andrews Dzokoto, stated that health care provision to inmates had been saddled with challenges as government subvention had dwindled over time, hence funds needed to purchase drugs had become a challenge.
Although the NHIS played an important role in mitigating the cost of treatment to inmates, the management of Ho prison, with the urge to step up its health care provision capacity, decided to upgrade the infirmary to a health centre.
With support from the Ghana Health Service and Ho Teaching Hospital, the health centre would provide improved health care to inmates and officers and their dependents through the use of the NHIS card.
In her speech, Ms Alorwu-Tay said the equipment were valuable because there were even bigger health institutions which lacked them. She called on the management of the prison to take good care of the equipment to serve their purpose, promising she would liaise with pharmaceutical companies to support the prison with medication.
For his part, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ho Teaching Hospital, Dr John Tampuori, promised to support the health centre with doctors to enable it to function effectively. He stated that if the centre was managed properly, it would support the finances of the prison as it offered health care to the public as well.
The Ho Central Prison was originally built to accommodate 150 inmates but currently it has 332 inmates made up of 280 convict prisoners with 52 on remand. The female prison also has seven inmates.
With a staff strength of 248 officers, the management of the prison has embarked on reformation and rehabilitation programmes such as carpentry, masonry, tailoring and weaving, among others, to enable inmates start a living after their release.