The regional Department of Health (DOH) in Mimaropa conducted screening activities for inmates for tuberculosis, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and mental health disorders as well as substance abuse.

About 1,500 inmates participated and 121 Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in various municipalities province-wide participated. There were 100 inmates in Romblon.

“We would like to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, especially in confinements where there are communal areas such as mess hall, kitchen, comfort rooms, shower area and living quarters, such as prison cells. People in these facilities are exposed daily to potentially harmful organisms,” DOH MIMAROPA Director Eduardo Janairo said.

Diseases, such as tuberculosis, are easily transmitted in crowded areas. The Stop TB Partnership, a World Health Organization (WHO) programme, noted that the risk of transmitting TB within prison cells is 23 times higher than that of the general population.

“There is the risk of infectious diseases being spread to facilities that are overcrowded and it is important that cells are properly sanitized and regularly cleaned to ensure that viruses and bacteria do not transmit infectious pathogens to people,” added Dr Janairo.

Participating penitentiaries include Oriental Mindoro Provincial Jail, Calapan City Jail, Roxas Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Nauhan BJMO, San Teodoro NJMP, Roxas OMPJ, Bansud NJMP and Pinamalayan OMPJ, Romblon Provincial Jail and Romblon BJMP.

Inmates found to be positive with any of the diseases will be given immediate treatment and preventive management to prevent spread. One inmate from Puerto Galera and another from Calapan City were found to be positive of HIV.

“I am very thankful for DOH-MIMAROPA Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo for having done this screening because we were able to identify inmates with HIV and TB,” OMPJ Provincial Warden Major Romeo U. Dulmo said.

He added they typically rely on inmates’ physical examination tests and that they have no way of identify who are carriers and who are not, and will recommend strict screening procedures. MIMS

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