Categorized | National News

Health Scare At HMP

Major health concerns are looming at Her Majesty’s Prisons (HMP) after a number of prison guards have reportedly broken out in rashes, believed to be scabies, due to what they call the “unsanitary and disgusting conditions” at the Fox Hill prison.

A group of prison officers who spoke to the Bahama Journal anonymously said a number of them had to be treated for bad rashes that mysteriously showed up on their skin.

They said based on the medication prescribed and research done on it, they believe that scabies is present on the HMP compound.

“It is so easy for any kind of sickness to develop at the prison,” one officer said. “We have no proper running water facilities in some sections, faeces is allowed to pile up, sometimes the officers are responsible for dumping the faeces, we have to share some bathroom facilities with some inmates, I mean it’s no surprise.”

“The nurses cave us Permethrin and when we researched, this medication is used for scabies. You have officers there whose skin has been breaking out so badly the rash just keeps getting worse and worse and still nothing is being done.”

Another prison officer added: “One day one of the guys on my shift complained that he was itching and the next day he came to work his skin had broken out in a bad rash. That same week, I started to itch and realised that my skin was breaking out, too. I know it’s not a coincidence that this is happening. We spend the majority of our days at work and I don’t want to take whatever this rash is in my house. I went to the staff clinic and I was given the same medication.”

Scabies is a contagious skin infection that is water-related.

It is caused by a tiny and usually not directly visible parasite, which burrows under a human’s skin, causing intense allergic itching.

It is similar to the mange condition that happens in animals, particularly dogs.

“All this is, is cause and effect,” one of the angry officers said. “For years and years we have been agitating for better working conditions, for our own bathroom facilities, for constant running water in this prison and still nothing.”

“This is simply the result. You put us to work in these conditions where we are around faeces and urine and nasty cells all day and this is what happens, we get sick. And we aren’t the only ones, a lot of our colleagues have this same rash.”

In the past several months the Bahamas Prison Association (BPA) and their umbrella union, the National Congress of Trade Unions of The Bahamas (NCTUB), threatened strike action if their issues were not cleared up.

While the officers said they have faith that the government is willing to tackle the issues, they said they believe it is the prison’s administrative staff that is not properly airing their concerns to the minister in charge and “sweeping a lot of our issues under the rug because they don’t have to live with it themselves.”

When asked to comment on the issue that scabies is present at the prison, BPA President Sergeant Gregory Archer would only say, “I am not surprised by this. They refuse to fix these issues, this is nothing new.”

Meantime, the angry officers who said they feared their health is at risk are asking prison officials to move quickly to address the issues before they get worse.

Calls to prison officials were not returned up to press time.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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