On the surface: Scabies outbreak gets under central jail’s skin

Over 70% of inmates are infected with skin issues

Umer Farooq October 12, 2015
Peshawar central prison. PHOTO: FILE

PESHAWAR: Skin diseases, especially scabies, have gotten under the skin of Central Prison Peshawar as over 70% inmates are suffering from such ailments.

“The more overcrowding, the greater the chance of the disease spreading since the infection can break out at any place,” says skin specialist Dr Mustafa. “But a place like central jail is a different story altogether; it did not take much time,” he tells The Express Tribune. He adds the prison houses 2,200 inmates while its capacity is just 850.

Mustafa recently visited the prison to check prisoners and examined people with symptoms. He reveals those infected amount to 70% of the inmates, adding this was a shocking figure.

Read: Prison predicament - out of the frying pan, into the fire

“Now we have to treat all of them,” he says. “Even if one is left out, the disease is likely to surface again.” Mustafa adds a health facility is functional at the prison and a skin specialist visits the facility once a week.

He stresses on health education, saying, “When you don’t have space to move while sleeping, such a phenomenon is inevitable and prison authorities must take steps to tackle the situation.” So far, the disease has been found in the adult barracks and women and children are said to be safe. However, even they could be infected if the situation is not brought under control.

Behind the walls

According to official documents, some high-ranking officials have been informed about the issue. However, instead of taking precautionary measures, they reportedly decided to conceal facts and are less than serious about curbing the disease.

The documents further show the first case was reported in November 2014 but the disease has now reached an alarming level where 70% of the patients are infected and more are exposed to the infectious disease.

The official documents pointed out skin specialists have already expressed concern over the lack of medicines. It adds the matter is at a complete standstill even though the prisons inspector general has been informed. Due to the inaction, the number of patients is growing by the day.

At fault

Dr Naimatullah at the Police Services Hospital, who pays a weekly visit to the facility, was contacted for comments on the issue. He said a strategy will be adopted where every single prison inmate will be treated for skin diseases. He reaffirmed that if one person is left unattended, it will lead to another outbreak sooner or later.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 13th, 2015.


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