ICRC working to prevent Covid-19 spread in Bangladesh prisons


Prisons are very vulnerable to infectious diseases because of how crowded they are

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is working with the Prison Directorate and the Ministry of Home Affairs to enhance preparedness of the 68 prisons across the country amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

ICRC announced the initiative in a statement on Sunday.

The organization has also started implementing infection prevention control measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus in prisons. The first batch of prevention materials was handed over to prison authorities on Thursday, 02 April, 2020, at the country’s central prison in Keraniganj.

Prisons are very vulnerable to infectious diseases because of how crowded they are. An outbreak of Covid-19 in a prison could have devastating effects on its population. 

Simona Cervi, ICRC Bangladesh Detention Team Leader, says: “We aim to support the prison authorities with recommendations on how to improve the response to coronavirus, and direct support to ensure that a comprehensive response to face the outbreak is put in place, in line with the ICRC guidelines and National Preparedness and Response Plan for Covid-19 in Bangladesh.”

According to the ICRC statement, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) will be adopted in prisons for primary medical response, ensuring and enforcing compliance with Infection Control and Prevention and hygiene promotion. Additionally, the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) volunteers will be involved in training the key staff of prisons; and the newly trained staff will then pass on the information to other employees, detainees, and visitors. It is expected that every jail will be capable of autonomously putting in place the Covid-19 response measures as agreed upon by the authorities.

The Inspector General (IG) of Prisons, Brigadier General AKM Mustafa Kamal Pasha, welcomed ICRC’s assistance in preventing infections related to Covid-19, saying: “We look forward to ICRC’s continued support and cooperation for prisoners’ health care in the future as well.”

The ICRC has been working with the government of Bangladesh to improve conditions and treatment afforded to detainees in prisons since 2014. It has been working to strengthen the overall prison health system through activities such as improving access to health care for inmates.