There is overwhelming evidence that justice-involved people disproportionately experience complex, co-occurring health problems including mental illness, substance dependence, cognitive disability, HIV and related infections, and non-communicable diseases. Effective health services and systems in prison and youth detention settings are central to addressing these problems, yet in most countries very little is known about these systems and services.
In 2016, the WHO(Europe) Health in Prisons Program and the UK WHO Collaborating Centre for Health in Prisons developed a national survey about prison health systems and services, completed by 40 Member States across the European Region. Launched publicly on the Global Health Observatory in December 2017, the Health in Prisons European Database (HIPED) provides valuable, comparable data for policy makers, practitioners and academics on the state of prison health in the European Region.
The Justice Health Unit is actively engaged in international collaborations to improve this evidence base. One of the key ways is by working towards a global minimum dataset on prison and detention health systems and services.
This will be done through supporting the WHO(Europe) Health in Prisons Program in its work to further improve the Health in Prisons European Database (HIPED) and to expand the Prison Health Survey to other WHO regions, and to adapt it to juvenile detention settings, and making the data publicly available. This will fill critical gaps in what is known about health systems and services for people in youth detention and prison and will significantly expand the evidence base in this important and under-researched area.
The Justice Health Unit is working in collaboration with the WHO(Europe) Health in Prisons Program. The UK WHO Collaborating Centre for Health in Prisons provides valued advisory support. The expected benefits of a global prison and detention health survey are to:
- Provide a basis for the development of evidence-informed policies regarding prison and youth detention health systems and services globally, including the relationship with broader policies relating to health inequalities and universal health coverage;
- Increase the capacity for collaborations relating to prison and youth detention health systems; and
- Identify target areas for the strengthening of health information systems and prison/detention health services.
Kinner SA, Southalan L, Janca E, Butler A, Young JT, Lindner SR, Martin RE, Menegon FA, Neves CM, Oliveira WF, Wang EA, Wildeman C, Williams B, Breda J, Ferreira-Borges C, Hughes N, O’Moore E, Schölin L & Stürup-Toft, S. (2018). The role of prisons, jails and youth detention centres in addressing health inequalities in the Americas: Submission to the PAHO Commission on Equity and Health Inequalities in the Americas. Melbourne, Australia: University of Melbourne.
Kinner SA, Southalan L, Janca E, Young JT. Global prison and juvenile detention health survey project. World Psychiatric Association Thematic Congress. Melbourne, Australia, 25-28 February 2018.
In the media
Janca E, Southalan L, Kinner SA. Health in custodial settings: focus on the Americas. (2018). Worldwide Prison Health Research & Engagement Network, Public Health England. Available from: https://wephren.tghn.org/articles/health-custodial-settings-focus-americas/