Rawalpindi-Adiala Jail hasone doctor and two male nurses for its 5,001 prisoners, something posing serious threat to not only the prisoners but also the jail staff during COVID-19 outbreak.

At present, the jail authorities have isolated some 10 inmates in an isolation ward with visible symptoms of coronavirus, according to details. Likewise, many other prisoners including old-aged and even children have been affected with other diseases while the jail lacks basic health facilities.

To make the matter worse, prisoners do not have easy access to laboratories to get their medical tests done and the 10 coronavirus suspected inmates have also not been tested for COVID-19 so far.

The district government is allegedly showing no interest in facilitating the inmates detained in Adiala Jail.

Similarly, the other prisons of the province are also facing shortage of doctors, paramedics and dispensers. Scores of vacancies for medical officers, doctors and nurses both male and female have been lying vacant since long in the Punjab Prison Department while the government is paying no heed towards the lingering issue. “The most pathetic reality is that no one from medical profession opts to join Punjab Prison Department due to very slow process of promotion,” according to details.

A senior doctor, serving in a jail, told The Nation that the prisons in the province including Adiala Jail have no basic facilities for diagnosis and treatment of diseases. In these prisons, compounders, instead of doctors, provide treatment to ailing inmates.

“Can you imagine only one doctor and two paramedics are deputed for more than 4,000 prisoners in the jails in Punjab which is dangerous,” he lamented.

He said doctors and paramedics are not joining Prison Department as there is no infrastructure for promotions exists there.

When contacted, Superintendent of Adiala Jail Saqib Nazir Chaudhry said two doctors and eight paramedics are on duty to provide medical treatment to 4,632 inmates detained in jail. He said one post for medical officer and three for paramedical staff are vacant that recruitments will be made soon. Replying to a query about health condition of the isolated patients, Superintendent replied they are improving rapidly.

Talking to The Nation, Inspector General of Punjab (IGP) Prisons Mirza Shahid Salim Baig said the authorities of all the jails have been spraying anti-coronavirus spray regularly.

He said the staffers and inmates have also been provided with masks and sanitizers by him to lessen the risk of COVID-19 spread in jails. He said meetings of inmates with relatives were banned while the jails staff’s movement has also been restricted in the province.

On a query regarding shortage of doctors and paramedics in the jails during Coronavirus outbreak, IGP said the government is trying to provide more and more doctors and paramedics for curing the inmates.

However, IGP Prisons Mirza Shahid Salim Baig expressed his unawareness about pending cases of promotions of doctors and paramedics working in jails. “Well I don’t know about this at all,” he said.