The Right to Health in Prisons

As a human right health constitutes a special technical, legal, medical and philosophical debate area. The different notions about what is and what should be the right to health make it a slippery one. Gaols, prison and detention centres in general constitute another more real, less «theoretical» harsher, if you wish, field. However, according to Foucault, the hospital as an institution shares a part of the prison tradition as a social control institution.

Such an approach from the point of view of human rights deliberately evades important theoretical debates to focus on a more operative look at health in prisons; that is, the importance of theoretical views and studies is not ignored, but we limit ourselves to submitting some rather operative considerations on what should be the assurance of the right to health in custody situations. The prison is a closed area that should be open to many eyes, institutions, debates, etc., including the institution of those human rights that are in force in the field of health.

This paper is divided into several items, the first one being a brief explanation of what we understand as the right to health; next, a review of the rights of persons under custody; lastly and once immersed into the subject we address the relationship between the prison system and health; the conditions of imprisonment and health; health services in detention centres; health programmes, and some considerations from the point of view of medical ethics.

You may download the article here: The Right to Health in Prisons