Ethiopian Standards Institute (ESI), the national standards body, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MoH) started drafting mandatory hygiene and environmental health standards for federal prison facilities across the county.
The standard, prepared with the aim of creating healthy and safe prison facilities, is expected to improve conditions of the prisons which have been widely criticized for poor sanitation and handling of inmates, according to Yilma Mengistu, Standard Preparation Director at ESI.
The standard does not include temporary prisoner centers and police stations.
Experts from the institute, MoH, and other organizations prepared details of health and hygiene requirements to be included in the draft standard. The draft is tabled for discussion to receive comments from stakeholders in a recent seminar held in Adama.
According to Yilma, the standard is also expected to address issues related to female prisoners having dependent infants to facilitate the health care of their infants.
The standard will put minimum requirements for toilet and washing facilities, prison cells, dining areas, medical facilities, entertainment, and playing facilities. The standard will set conditions to make sure prison premises and compounds are not hazardous to health and have fresh air and sufficient lights as well.
“So as to address hygiene and sanitation issues which are caused by overcrowded prisons, the standard is supposed to limit living space per inmate in prison establishments and the surrounding area,” said Yilma.
“Globally prisons are high-risk settings for the transmission of contagious diseases posing considerable challenges in managing outbreaks in them. These standards are intended to reduce the occurrence of such outbreaks and other related health issues.”
The standard will be implemented after it is approved by the National Standard Council, a policy-making and governing body of the institution, whose members are appointed by the government from various organizations.
As the Ministry of Health is the regulatory government body to control the implementation of the standard, the Federal Prison Administration, an organization mandated to administer federal prisons in the country, will be responsible for putting the standards in place.