Tuberculosis Spreads Inside the Hama Central Prison; How Many Victims to Date?

Tuberculosis Spreads Inside the Hama Central Prison; How Many Victims to Date?
Investigations | 17 Nov 2015

Lack of ventilation, lack of proper care, and difficult living conditions; these are the most important reasons that led to thirty detainees in the central Hama prison being stricken by tuberculosis!

Rozana contacted a number of detainees inside the Syrian regime-run Hama prison. One of them said: “We were surprised a week ago with the spread of severe cough among several prisoners. After prisoners visiting the medical specialist to receive healthcare, their conditions were neglected; only given painkillers and anti-cough syrup.”

According to the detainee, the disease worsened in the past two days, with more cases being reported in several other dormitories and cells—an increasingly violent cough accompanied with blood with phlegm. He adds: “With the increase in the number of cases, prisoners’ discontent mounted. This prompted the prison director to transfer the ill prisoners into a communal cell, without allowing any doctors or specialists to monitor the infected cases." 

Lack of Hygiene… And Disease Rampant!

On the health conditions inside the prison as well as available medications Ahmad, a detainee, says "we suffering from miserable hygiene conditions. Cleaning materials necessary for the dormitories are not available; and doctors monitoring the health status of the detainees, give scant importance or attention to anyone with an ailment.”

Ahmed confirms, that neither medication nor properly qualified doctors can be found in the prison—as these doctors actually present are ill qualified to understand or treat all cases.

It seems that one reasons for the spread of diseases—particularly tuberculosis—in the Hama Central Prison, is due to the arrival of new detainees coming in from security branches of the regime’s intelligence!

“This case [tuberculosis] has been spreading since several months, as a result of the large number of detainees who are being literally stuffed into narrow dormitories, already lacking in the minimum of sanitary conditions as it is," says Mohammad, a Hama prison detainee.

He explains: “These new detainees carry many diseases resulting of bad and unventilated prison conditions. The Hama prison management, however, dispatches these new arrivals into cellblocks nilly-willy—without first allowing specialists to check them, or distribution of proper medication to them."

No Medication Allowed!

Hama central prison’s administration does not content itself with merely neglecting prisoners’ situation, or paying very little attention to their conditions; it may even go so far as preventing entry of any form of aid to them from their families.

Umm Mohammad, mother of one detainee released from the central Hama prison, informs Rozana: "During a visit to my son in the Hama prison, I discovered that he suffered an acute cough. I met the prison director to arrange for medication to him [my son], but the director prohibited me from doing such."

Umm Mohammad adds: "Shortly thereafter he was released. We immediately checked him in with a specialist, who determined that my son had contracted second-degree tuberculosis. He is currently undergoing treatment at a specialized center in Hama, and we are monitoring his condition which is quite bad, now."

Tuberculosis: Causes!

The symptoms of tuberculosis [TB] include weight and appetite loss, fever, night sweats [during sleep]. TB bacilli invade different parts of the human body—namely skin, kidneys, bones, as well as the genital and urinary tracts. They kill off numerous immune cells in the body.

What about TB’s causes, particularly inside prison? Dr. Alaa remarks: "The main reason for the spread and increase in this disease, is the lack of [proper] ventilation inside dormitories or cells; as well as the lack of quarantining patients suspected of having TB. TB microbacteria can infect a healthy person via inhalation—even via minimal amounts of TB-infected cough in his immediate vicinity.”

Dr. Alaa adds that the numerical density of prisoners inside the regime’s prison system, helps the vast and large propagation of TB’s transmission. He explains that TB treatment requires admission of patients into specialized centers, for a period of not less than four months—punctuated by continuous treatment. And that is for light cases!

He asserts: "Most existing cases in prisons are actually of the more severe type and, therefore, difficult to treat. These cases usually require almost one year of intensive treatment in a [specialized] center. This disease [TB] is the leading cause of death of many detainees inside Syrian [regime] jails."

The Syrian centers for the documentation of [Human Rights’] violations, have documented several cases of mass executions of people with tuberculosis, inside the Syrian regime’s security branches. The aim seems to be containment—so as not to spread TB to other cells; or to negate TB’s effects—seemingly one of the major diseases to cause deaths in the security branches.

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