OFFICIALS at Preah Sihanouk provincial prison requested intervention from the provincial health department this week after 10 prisoners were stricken with severe vomiting and diarrhoea, five of whom were hospitalised.
Chorb Vutha, the director of the technical office at the department, said yesterday that his staff had visited the prison and concluded that the outbreak was caused by poor sanitation and low-quality food.
“Our doctors have found that this diarrhoea is not a symptom of cholera. It occurred because of the lack of sanitation in the food that they consume, and because of the poor living standards,” he said.
Prison director Top Sophea said yesterday that the condition of the sick prisoners was “getting better”, and that two of the five hospitalised prisoners had been returned to his facility.
Bun Narith, provincial coordinator for the rights group Licadho, said his organisation had been allowed to instruct inmates on ways to improve sanitation, such as boiling drinking water.
He expressed concern, however, that “some of the prisoners are living in unclean rooms”.
“Therefore, we gave them some strategies to improve their living standard. They should wash utensils with soap before eating with them,” he said.
Jeff Vize, a prison consultant for Licadho, said 332 inmates had been counted at the prison in June, more than double its capacity of 150.