(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

TB, HIV warning for Cambodia's prisons

A guard stands watch from a old prison in Pursat Province in Cambodia

Tuberculosis and HIV rates in Cambodia’s largest prison are roughly six and four times the respective national averages, according to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

MSF screened 1,783 inmates at the Prey Sar prison in Phnom Penh. Preliminary results of the on-going screenings found 4 percent had TB, and 3 percent were HIV-positive. The World Health Organization and government report Cambodia's general population has rates of 0.68 and 0.7 percent, respectively.

Overcrowding in Cambodia's prisons has exacerbated this global problem, Heng Hak, head of the prison system, told IRIN. The country’s 25 prisons have an official capacity of 8,000 inmates but hold nearly 14,000 people, attended to by 96 health workers, he added. Since the beginning of this year, seven prisons have gained healthcare facilities, but they are not yet fully staffed.

Emmanuel Lavieuville, head of MSF in Cambodia, said the screening was “part of a longer process" to significantly improve healthcare services in Cambodia’s prisons, of which MSF is only addressing TB and HIV screenings.


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