New report provides snapshot of prison health systems across Europe

WHO/Maxim Dondyuk

A new WHO report on health in prisons collates information from 38 European countries to provide a snapshot of prison health systems and services across the WHO European Region.

Prison health is an important aspect of public health. More than 1.5 million people are held in European penal institutions, including prisons, on any given day. The number of people who pass through each year is considerably greater.

Evidence shows incarcerated people are more likely to experience complex and co-occurring health problems.

The data will provide a basis for the development of evidence-informed policies regarding prison health systems and services in Europe, including their relationship with broader policies relating to health inequalities and universal health coverage.

The report, entitled “Health in prisons: fact sheets for 38 European countries”, provides a summary of 8 key domains:

  • population demographics;
  • health-care systems;
  • environment;
  • risk factors;
  • disease screening;
  • prevention of communicable disease;
  • treatment; and
  • mortality.

These domains are aligned with the Health in Prisons European Database (HIPED), which aims to provide comprehensive, consistent and reliable data on prison health across the Region.

The report also highlights gaps in data reporting and collection. It was launched at the 6th Prison Health Conference in Helsinki, Finland, to encourage improvements in monitoring and surveillance systems in prisons.

This is a major milestone in improving health for all.