The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has called on citizens and government to provide quality healthcare support to prisoners and other vulnerable groups in the country.
The association indicated that it was the fundamental human rights of every human being including; the right to health, without any perspicacity, but prisoners and other groups suffer greater disproportionate burden of health problems due to neglect.
Dr Frank Ankobea, President of the GMA made the call during the opening of the GMA’s 61st Annual General Conference held in Tamale.
The conference was held on the theme: “The Health of Prisoners and Other Vulnerable Groups in Ghana, The Realities and Expectations”.
Dr Ankobea, said prisoners suffer several ailments including; mental disorders, skin diseases and other infectious diseases, and added that the Tamale Prisons for instance kept almost three hundred 300 inmates and forms part of the several millions of people who were in prisons all over the world.
Dr Ankobea indicated that even though there were some steps taken to ensure that the health of prisoners were secured, more efforts were needed to make life more comfortable for them to speed up their reformation.
“It is imperative for all to ensure that prisoners enjoy the same level of health that we enjoy as a country outside the walls of confinement” he said.
He acknowledged the need for citizens and government to also provide care and support to people with mental health issues and help eradicate streetism and said it was one of the fundamental basis to solving the ever increasing issues of armed rubbery, prostitution and other social vises.
He called on government to help improve the conditions of service for doctors, improvement in the distribution of health care personnel and putting in place promotional incentives to attract health staffs to serve in deprived communities.
Dr Anarfi Asamoa-Baah, Former Deputy Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) called for change in the perception of members of the public about prisoners by supporting and caring for them and preventing other people from becoming prisoners.
He urged the GMA and the Prison Service to collaborate with other stakeholders to help share ideas and develop concrete plans to address the problems in the prisons.
Mrs Josephine Fredua-Agyemang, Deputy Director of Prisons in charge of Finance and Administration, said the well-being of prison inmates was paramount and therefore it was necessary to provide quality health care as one of the measures to meeting and achieving the SDG goal on universal health coverage.
She appealed for increment in the feeding rate for the inmates to help enhance their well-being.
The Deputy Director commended efforts and support of the GMA to the prison service and called for more support from other agencies and organisations.
Mr Salifu Saeed, the Northern Regional Minister, acknowledged the role played by the prison Service in maintaining order and behavioural change of the inmates and encouraged the citizens to support the service.
He commended the role of the GMA in health care delivery and urged the association to strengthen and ensure that health officials worked by the ethics of the profession.
He gave the assurance that the region was largely peaceful and therefore encouraged all health personnel to accept posting to the area.
Also present at the event included; the representatives of the Overlord of Dagbon, representative from the Ministry of Health, staff of the Ghana Prison Service, and Health practitioners among others.