Tihar inmates get more care, death rate at lowest

February 1st, 2009 - 3:36 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 1 (IANS) Tihar Jail, one of Asia’s largest prisons, has become more caring about the health of its thousands of inmates.The sprawling prison in the western part of the capital that has often come under the scanner of rights bodies after the mysterious deaths of inmates recorded its lowest death rate in a decade in 2008, and no suicidal death.

“Only 13 people died in 2008 against 33 in 2007. It is the lowest mortality rate of prisoners in the past decade. It is mainly because of the utmost care shown to sick and old prisoners,” Tihar’s law officer Sunil Gupta told IANS.

“The deaths decreased sharply due to the efforts of our motivated medical and paramedical staff and the improved medical infrastructure,” he added.

Tihar has nine prisons - eight in the Tihar complex and one in Rohini. At present over 11,500 prisoners are lodged inside the jails - against a sanctioned capacity of 6,250.

The prison has a 150-bed hospital and dispensaries in each of the jails to provide round-the-clock healthcare to prisoners. It has 107 doctors and 150 paramedic staff deputed for prison healthcare.

Gupta said a majority of the inmates belonged to the lower strata of society.

“Prisoners who require specialised medical treatment, which facility is not available in the jail hospital, are referred to outside hospitals,” he said.

Over 23,000 prisoners were taken to hospitals like the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Deen Dayal Upadhyay (DDU), Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) and Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in 2008, compared to 18,594 in 2007.

The law officer claimed there had been no case of suicidal death in 2008. Two prisoners had committed suicide in 2007.

The jail administration had come under flak in 2007 when the Delhi government and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) launched separate investigations after seven inmates died, in quick succession, inside the premises.

Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Prison C.R. Garg said the low death rate in 2008 was the result of various healthcare measures taken by the jail authorities.

“We have constituted a board of doctors to decide on the admission of inmates to the jail hospital. The board allows admission to only the very critically ill patients,” Garg told IANS.

“The board was constituted by the director general of the jail. With this, it has also become very difficult for the VIP or high profile prisoners to feign illness and get themselves admitted to the jail hospital by colluding with jail doctors.”

“There have been instances in the past where doctors were found hand in glove with the prisoners. But now it has become very difficult. The hospital administration has been asked to prepare and send reports of patients who are housed in the jail hospital for more than a week,” Garg said.

The prison has also launched yoga classes and spiritual discourses for inmates. They are kept busy in different activities like gardening, bakery and tailoring.

(Sahil Makkar can be contacted at sahil.m@ians.in and Richa Sharma can be contacted at richa.s@ians.in)

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