The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has raised the alarm over the health crisis in Ghana’s prisons and called for urgent and comprehensive healthcare for inmates in various prisons across the country.

It has identified overcrowding, drug abuse, poor diet and hygiene, infections and substandard healthcare as the cause of the crisis being faced in the prisons.

“It is worth noting that the health status of prisons to a large extent impacts the health of the entire nation,” it said in a communiqué issued at the end of its 61st annual general conference in Tamale.

The conference was on the theme: “the health of prisoners and other vulnerable groups in Ghana: the realities and expectations”.

“There is currently a crisis situation in Ghana’s prisons that impact negatively on the general welfare of prisoners, especially their health” the GMA observed.

Quoting data from the Ghana Prisons Service, it said 67 per cent of prisoners are extremely overcrowded with the number of inmates in excess of 150-300 per cent of their holding capacity.

At the Tamale Central Prison, for instance, it said though it was built to hold only 60 prisoners, there are currently more than 300 inmates in there.

“The fundamental human rights of every single person in the country include the right to healthcare without any discrimination,” it stated.

However, the GMA said the health problems of prisoners “are largely neglected”.

For the GMA, the government has a duty of care to prisoners and same must be met at all times.

“Government must ensure that there is a holistic and comprehensive healthcare delivery for prisoners at all levels, better resourcing of the Ghana Prison Service and improvement of infrastructure in our various prisons,” it demanded.

It underscored the need for a national conference of all key stakeholders on the health of prisoners and other vulnerable groups in the country.

Meanwhile, the GMA observed one other disturbing situation at the country’s prisons is the fact that 82 per cent of the inmates are below 30 years.

That, it noted, means the “young abled men and women who should be contributing their quota to our country’s development are held in our prisons”.