Contributor(s)Prison Insider

Daily life

Medical personnel depends on the General Direction of the Penitentiary System (DGSP).

The DGSP has not implemented an integrated medical treatment programme.

Each prison has an infirmary.Some are administered by a qualified medical person,and others by an inmate with medical experience. In the prisons most affected by over-population, inmates occupy the spaces designated for patients.

There is limited access to medication. The infirmaries only have basic supplies such as analgesics, antipyretics and anti-diarrhea drugs.

The number of medical staff is insufficient and as a result they must provide their services to several prisons in the region. They are only able to handle emergencies or serious cases.

In 2013, inmates from the “Los Jocotes” Preventive Detention Centre filed a complaint to the Human Rights Ombudsman Office (Procuraduría de Derechos Humanos, PDH) for having contracted scabies. When the PDH inspected the centre in May 2014, the medical staff reported that 50% of inmates (almost 350 people) were affected by the condition, caused mainly by the lack of hygiene and a large over-population.

In its 2014 report, the PDH expressed its concern about the situation of inmates suffering from HIV/AIDS. It pointed out that judges are late in permitting transfers to hospitals, thereby endangering the life of patients who usually do not have access to proper medical treatment.

The DGSP has not established any inter-institutional protocols for hospital treatment, so the transfer of patients from prisons to hospitals is complicated.

On 10 March 2015, a grenade exploded near the San Juan de Dios General Hospital killing one person and injuring 27.

Following this incident, the authorities announced that a million quetzales ($13,490 US) would be made available for establishing two clinics: at the Granja Penal El Pavón and at the Zone 18 Preventive Detention Centre.The PDH conducted a visit on 25 May 2015 and reported that the new clinics do not meet standards. The DGSP went ahead and bought paint, two stretchers, two computers and some lab equipment “which is not being used because there is no lab staff”*1. There is one on-call physician, the others left after the opening because of the lack of medication and supplies. The DGSP’s promises of “clinics with three specialist doctors, one surgeon, one lab personnel, two on-call physicians and one nurse *”2 have not been kept. A few months later, the operational assistant-director for the DGSP cancelled the two clinics and ordered that prisoners be transferred to public hospitals.

Two clinics specialised in treating prisoners with HIV/AIDS were opened in October 2015 in the Granja Penal El Pavón and the Female Orientation Centre (Centro de Orientación Femenina, COF) prison facilities. This project was the result of the collaborative efforts of the DGSP with the Humanist Institute for Development Cooperation (Instituto Humanista de Cooperación para el Desarrollo, HIVOS) and the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance. The PDH has asked the authorities to supply medications and the necessary staff to ensure that the clinics provide a satisfactory service3.

  1. Human Rights Section of the Office of the Prosecutor, 2015 Detailed Annual Report, pp. 209-210 

  2. Ibid. 

  3. Ibid.