close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
April 6, 2020

Safety of mentally ill prisoners during pandemic outbreak should be ensured

Islamabad

April 6, 2020

Islamabad : The Pakistan Psychiatric Society (PPS) has urged the government to ensure the safety of mentally ill prisoners during the COVID-19 pandemic as mentally ill patients often have underlying diseases that make them more susceptible to the virus.

The prisoners with mental illnesses cannot always understand and follow instructions clearly to avoid infections. They may not be able to maintain personal hygiene by washing their hands properly or taking precautionary measures. Moreover, they might not be able to identify symptoms or express themselves to seek medical attention.

The PPS President Dr Muhammad Iqbal Afridi and General Secretary Dr Mian Mukhtar ul Haq Azeemi expressed this in a statement. The PPS noted that according to official figures there are at least 600 mentally ill prisoners in jails across Pakistan. These prisoners are at great risk of contracting COVID-19 due to their compromised immune systems. The PPS cited the example of South Korea where at least seven mentally ill patients died after an outbreak of Coronavirus in psychiatric wards of two medical facilities.

According to PPS, Pakistani prisoners are an exceptionally vulnerable class, living in grossly overcrowded prisons in poor sanitary and unhygienic conditions. The PPS noted that in the light of a prisoner tested positive for COVID-19 at Camp Jail, Lahore, there was an urgent need to take extreme measures and slow down the further spread of the virus.

Executive Director of Justice Project Pakistan Sarah Belal said that in a time like this, keeping mentally ill prisoners behind bars exposes them to extreme risk of contracting the virus and even dying as a result of it. Kanizan Bibi, a paranoid schizophrenic, has spent over 30 years in prison.

Imdad Ali is so mentally ill that he needs constant care round the clock. Khizar Hayat, another schizophrenic prisoner who spent over a decade and a half on death row, died last year after contracting viral encephalitis in prison because he was too mentally ill to tell his symptoms. The state must ensure safety of mentally ill prisoners by either releasing them to the care of their families or transferring them to mental healthcare facilities, she said.