THE government plans to expand tuberculosis treatment to all 25 prisons nationwide by 2015 in an effort to curb the spread of the disease among those behind bars, officials said this week.
Dr Mao Tan Eang, director of the National Centre for Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control (CENAT), cited a 2005 survey finding that the tuberculosis infection rate among prisoners was “five to six times higher” than that of the general population.
“In 2005, we found that 45 of 1,275 surveyed prisoners had tuberculosis, meaning that the rate is higher than for other people,” he said at a workshop held for prison officials on Wednesday.
Heng Hak, director of the prisons department at the Interior Ministry, said on Thursday that 206 out of 13,374 total prisoners have tuberculosis.
“It is difficult for us to take care of them because we lack money, there are many prisoners, and the rooms they stay in are too small,” he said.
Presently, tuberculosis treatment provided by CENAT is available in only four prisons – two in Phnom Penh, one in Siem Reap province and one in Kampong Cham province, Mao Tan Eang said.
He said similar programmes would soon be established in prisons in Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provinces.