Belgium: “prison isn’t a place for care”

Healthcare access in prison is lacking, but efforts aim to correct that.

Incarcerated people are often in worse physical and mental health than the general population. Yet healthcare in prison presents a number of challenges, both structural and logistical: lack of diagnosis, insufficient access to treatment, inconsistent continuity of care, inadequately trained staff, dilapidated premises, lack of equipment, etc. Efforts led by civil society organisations aim to compensate for these shortfalls, but haven’t managed to rectify them.

Vinciane Saliez and Kris Meurant are co-founders of the nongovernmental organisation I.Care, which has been visiting prisons since 2015. They strive to promote health and improve access to care inside.

Today, the opposite approach is taken and prison constitutes lost time. It can only be negative, as much for incarcerated people as for staff.

One prison warden told us that we’d opened her eyes to things she’d never seen despite 20 years in the field.

Their drive alone keeps things together despite an outrageous lack of resources.