As of 2013, the latest statistics available, more than 400,000 individuals are lodged in Indian prisons. Prisoners represent a heterogeneous population, belonging to socially diverse and economically disadvantaged sections of society with limited knowledge about health and healthy lifestyles. There is considerable evidence to show that prisoners in India have an increased risk of mental disorders including self-harm and are highly susceptible to various communicable diseases. Coupled together with abysmal living conditions and poor quality of medical services, health in prisons is a matter of immense human rights concern. However, the concept and the subsequent need to view prison health as an essential part of public health and as a strategic investment to reach persons and communities out of the primary health system ambit is poorly recognized in India. This article discusses the current status of prison healthcare in India and explores various potential opportunities the “prison window” provides. It also briefly deliberates on the various systematic barriers in the Indian prison health system and how these might be overcome to make primary healthcare truly available for all.
Bhaumik, S.; Mathew, R.J. Health and beyond…strategies for a better India: using the "prison window" to reach disadvantaged groups in primary care. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care (2015) 4 (3) 315-318. [DOI: 10.4103/2249-4863.161304]