A STUDY ON THE HEALTH CARE DELIVERY SYSTEM FOR INMATES OF THE NIGERIA PRISON
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Despite Nigeria’s progress on democratic, economic and political reforms, Nigeria’s prisons are yet to make appreciable impact on the welfare of the inmates. A recurring debate within contemporary academic circles, criminologists, health workers and prison experts, is to ensure an appropriate health template for proper prison administration that will reflect its objectives. Even though crime and other vices need to be deterred, it should be to the extent that inmates health should be adequately taken care of during and after imprisonment; it is therefore needful to be logical and rational in terms of health delivery while in custody.Seven years into the new millennium, health for all prison inmates in Nigeria and many African nations has remained mirage. Recent assessment of African Prison Health systems indicates a gloomy picture of weakness in performance (African Regional Health Report, 2006).
The inability to provide quality and equitable access to prison health care services through much reliance on western health care framework have further widening the existing health inequalities in many African countries and the Nigerian prisons in particular. This scenario has also the poor and the rich, urban and rural dwellers, inmates and the “free” at different axis of the production spectrum of health care delivery in Nigeria. A good example of this unfavourable equation becomes obvious when the health of special groups like the prisoners is critically examined (Health in African Prisons, 1999). Evidence has linked major determinants of health in modern populations to socioeconomic, political and cultural factors and as such inequalities in health have remained problematic across cultures, socio-economic class, gender or ethnicity (Bambra et al., 2005). In the social sequence of events, prison inmates are most times from the poorest sectors of the society, and suffer more from inequitable access to effective health care services. This experience also exacerbates existing health problems of inmates (de viggiani, 2007). Hence, the current drive towards realizing the health related millennium development goals requires more forceful drive from the Nigerian government. Health is political and the power exercised over it is part of the wider economic, social and political system (Bambra1, et al., 2005). Thus, achieving both qualitative and quantitative health among special groups like prison inmates may be far from realization going by the slow attitude of prison officials and the government in particular in addressing the health needs of prisoners. Hence, this paper attempts a sociological discourse of prison health within the social context producing it.