ABSTRACTBackground: Prisoners are vulnerable to several health problems because they are incarcerated in a closed facility leading to many communicable and chronic diseases. Due to prison congestion, the increased number of older inmates and disease epidemics, prison healthcare services need to be evaluated. Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess the perception of health care providers related to the medical conditions and care of inmates in two prisons in Lebanon (Roumieh and Baabda) and one medical center (Araya).

Methodology: A cross sectional design using a structured survey related to the health care system and the management of chronic diseases in prison was conducted with the health care providers. In addition, actual observation of the prisons was done. Results : Eighty percent of health care providers surveyed indicated that they had an inpatient unit on site and 93% indicated that they have a registry of patients with diabetes, asthma and hepatitis. However, if a patient has two co-morbid conditions then his/her medical file is placed in one filing cabinet making the management of both health conditions difficult. There was limited provision of care for psychiatric illnesses especially in critical incidents. The most common chronic condition reported by respondents was diabetes followed by ischemic heart diseases, hepatitis and asthma.

Observation of prisons: The prisons were over-crowed with limited access to health care. There is no computerized medical system and transfers to an emergency department often ends with a calamity.

Conclusions: With an increasing number of people in prisons, attention should be paid by the government to allocate funds to the care of inmates albeit difficult in countries suffering from economic strains.

Keywords: prisons; prisoners; health care

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