THE Ratanakkiri Health Department has opened a health clinic at the provincial prison, officials said yesterday, about three weeks after local rights group Adhoc reported that one inmate had died and four others had fallen ill with various diseases.
Tha Bunthak, the department’s deputy director, said the facility opened on Friday.
“Previously, prisoners or detainees have been sent to hospital with chains or handcuffs attached to them, which surprises and terrifies other patients who are being hospitalised in the same room,” he said. “If their illness is not serious, we will treat them at the prison clinic, and only when they are in serious condition will we send them to hospital for treatment with prison guards watching over them.”
Prison chief Ngin Nael could not be reached for comment yesterday. But provincial deputy governor Sor Neak said the clinic, stationed in a previously vacant room in the prison compound, lacked equipment.
“The clinic does not have medical equipment,” Neak said. “It is just a room reserved for prisoners and detainees to stay and get treatment of minor illnesses only.”
Pen Bonnar, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, yesterday questioned that the facility would lead to tangible improvements in the prisoners’ health.