Israel: Substandard prison health care

July 6, 2020


IFHHRO partner Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHRI) recently published the English translation of an important report (originally in Hebrew) on prison health care in Israel, titled ‘Health remanded to custody. The Future of the Prison Health Care System in Israel’.

The report’s executive summary highlights that “morbidity among prison inmates (prisoners and detainees) is significantly higher than in the general population. Many inmates belong to socio-economically disadvantaged groups characterized by unhealthy lifestyles and a high rate of drug and alcohol abuse. In addition, living conditions in prison, which include overcrowding, a lack of physical space and restrictions imposed on the inmates’ daily routine, result in a sedentary lifestyle, heightened stress, poor nutrition and smoking.”

Health care for inmates is provided by the healthcare system of the Israel Prison Service (IPS), which operates independently of the Israeli public health system and the Ministry of Health and is not subject to effective external control and oversight.

PHRI emphasizes  that “the services provided to inmates are of poor quality and fail to meet the professional and ethical standards of the community health care system. Not only is the continued existence of a separate – and inferior – health care system for inmates morally wrong and not only does it violate the principle of equality, it is not cost-effective, as it will likely overburden the public health system which, once inmates are released from prison and rejoin society, will have to treat patients who did not receive optimal care.”

PHRI therefore calls for a system of prison health care that falls under public health services and the Ministry of Health.

Download the report (PDF)