Health through Walls (HtW)

Legal basis (mandates) and mission

Health through Walls (HtW) is a nongovernmental organization based in the United States of America,  whose mission is to assist low-income countries in implementing sustainable improvements in the health care services of their prisons. A primary focus of this effort is the identification, prevention, and management of infectious diseases, especially HIV, cholera, and tuberculosis (TB).

Topics of interest in the prison setting

  • Providing direct patient care services to prisoners for the prevention, identification and treatment of infectious and contagious diseases, particularly HIV, AIDS, and TB
  • Medical ethics; professional independence of prison health staff
  • Technical assistance, staff training, peer education among inmates
  • Medicine, policy review, resource collection and donation
  • Establishing laboratory services for the diagnosis of TB screening with digital X-ray, HIV testing, conducting needs assessments, providing resources
  • Training nursing staff in health assessments, intervening to lessen the effects of beriberi and malnutrition in the prisons
  • Facilitating meetings between stakeholders, and providing equipment and supplies to facilitate improved health care delivery
  • Developing systems of disease screening and medical triage, securing educational and material resources
  • Building alliances with community organizations
  • Equal access for prisoners to preventive care and harm reduction services, including voluntary testing and counselling for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections
  • Multidrug resistant TB (MDR-TB) management in prisons
  • Stigma reduction among prisoners and staff
  • Telemedicine
  • Electronic Medical Records for prisons

Strategic operations

  • Implement integrated HIV, cholera and TB programmes; improve programme management capacity for MDR-TB; develop a compendium of MDR-TB best practices in prisons
  • Facilitate collection and management of data relating to epidemiological trends, health system performance, and prison health policy

Role in prisons

HtW works in partnership with correctional administrations and health care staff of developing countries to assist their efforts in delivering effective and quality health care in their prisons. HtW works to implement sustainable and replicable models in the delivery of prisoner health care.
HtW's primary focus is the identification, prevention, and management of infectious disease, especially HIV/AIDS, cholera and TB.

Target groups

  • Prisoners and prisons in resource-poor nations
  • Drug users, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, sex workers, family members and partners
  • Governments and their correctional facilities
  • Community organizations
  • Medical professionals 
  • Resource partners

Geographic region of focus

Low and middle-income countries of the Caribbean ( Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica), sub-Saharan Africa (Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Malawi, South Africa, and Tanzania), eastern Europe (Romania).