Helping to Stop the Spread of Tuberculosis in Iranian Prisons

23 Jun 2013

With the support of UNDP, Iranian Prisons Organization holds a workshop on the control of Tuberculosis for health workers and managers of Iran's prisons.

Prison health directors discuss issues related with TB prevention during the three-day workshop

In partnership with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM), UNDP is contributing to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s efforts to address tuberculosis (TB), HIV/AIDS and  malaria.

The partnership involves  national institutions, academia and the World Health Organization (WHO); helping Iran curb TB in seven provinces, which bear 50 per cent of the national TB burden, as well as in 60 large prisons across the country. Crowded environments – such as prison settings – usually constitute hotspots for the spread of TB.

The Iranian Prisons Organization and UNDP annually hold a set of capacity-strengthening workshops for health workers and managers of Iran’s prisons.  This year, the workshop runs from June to mid-July.  The partnership predominately addresses the spread of tuberculosis.

 


Dr. Farnia speaking to the participants at the three-day workshop held at Esteghlal hotel, Tehran

The history of Tuberculosis may be as old as that of humans.  Globally, thousands of lives are lost to TB each year, mostly among the poor and marginalised.  In recent past, with the rise of new medications and technologies, progress towards global targets for reductions in TB has been impressive.

According to WHO, TB mortality has fallen over 40 per cent worldwide since 1990, and the rate is on the decline.  Risk mitigation measures include early notification and appropriate treatment – to achieve high treatment success rates – and avoid drug resistance among patients.

The partnership provides for raising awareness among the general public and the target groups, strengthened TB identification infrastructure, better case finding and more effective treatment measures.  In prisons, it has contributed to establishing quarantine wards, regular inmate screenings, patient isolation and directly observed treatment.

Last Tuesday, 18 June, a session began with prison health directors from all over Ira as participants. It was kicked off by Dr. Marzyieh Farnia, Director of the Health Department of Prisons Organization and National Project Director of the joint project.  UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Mr. Balasubramaniam Murali also spoke at the opening.


UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Mr. Balasubramaniam Murali and GFATM head, Mr. Saeid Ferdowsi making their remarks at the workshop

Mr. Murali expressed his appreciation to the Prisons Organization for the effective cooperation on achieving the goals of the project.

“Apart from the impact on particular diseases, the success of improved care and treatment measures has to do with reintegration of prisoners as full members of the society,” said Mr. Murali.

Similarly, Dr. Farnia highlighted the reduced mortality rate in prison settings as a result of a well-designed, systematic approach to the health of prisoners through activities of Global Fund projects.  The project plans to train 240 Tuberculosis coordinators in the prisons across Iran on the latest developments and protocols for TB control in prisons.

The GFATM Tuberculosis project is scheduled to end in September 2013, but efforts are being made to extend it beyond its planned closure.