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Questions arise about prisoner medical care

Questions arise about prisoner medical care

Two prisoners in the Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provincial prisons have died over the past few days, raising concerns of overcrowding and inadequate medical facilities in prisons.

Phin Phal, 40, died of high blood pressure in Battambang prison yesterday while guards were taking him to get medical treatment, prison director Kang Saren said.

Phin Phal had been detained in September last year, and was waiting to go on trial on charges of counterfeiting money.   

Kang Saren said Phin Phal had told prison guards about 4am that he was not feeling well, and he had been brought to receive treatment in the prison’s health care centre.

When his condition persisted, prison officers took him to the provincial hospital but he passed away en route.

“We tried to save his life but we could not because he died on the way to getting medical treatment,” Kang Saren said.

In a separate incident, a prisoner in the Banteay Meanchey prison died after a fainting spell on Friday.  

Prison director Hing Sophal said Soeung Saron, 39, had served three years of his six-year sentence.

He passed away on arriving at Mongkul Borei referral hospital, having complained of dizziness and fainted.  

Hing Sophal said resources at the prison had been insufficient for treatment.

“We have our own health care centre but it was beyond our ability to treat him, so we brought him to get medical treatment,” the prison director said.

Am Sam Ath, senior investigator for Licadho, said NGOs had expressed concerns over the health of prisoners because of how the notorious overcrowding of jails affected prisoners’ health.

He said: “Even though all the prisons in the country have health care centres, they do not have the medicine needed for treatment and nurses there have less knowledge.”

Sorn Keo, spokesman for the general department of prisons under the Ministry of Interior, declined to comment yesterday.

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