KUALA LUMPUR: A medical professor has warned that putting drug users in prison may threaten the health of the rest of the public once they are released.
Adeeba Kamarulzaman, who is the dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Universiti Malaya (UM), said the prison environment could amplify chronic diseases, especially among drug users, who may be predisposed to these diseases.
“There is an ongoing risk of contracting chronic diseases in prisons because of poor nutrition and a poor environment,” she said at a roundtable discussion on enhancing the health and criminal justice outcomes of prisoners in Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries.
The discussion was held at the Institute for Strategic and International Studies (Isis) Malaysia.
Adeeba said the fact that most drug users were later released could prove unhealthy for the general public.
“Once prisoners who have contracted these diseases are released back into the public, then you have mobility of the disease.”
On the other hand, she said, prisons also presented the opportunity to treat these diseases because of the amount of time prisoners spend there.
However, this would require adequate medical care.
“Both the legal and medical systems must be brought together to improve the health of not just the prisoners, but the surrounding community as well.”