Project Stories: Togo

Poorly provided in narrow spaces

Hope for prisoners in Togo

by Heike Knauff-Oliver, 2019/08/07

It is hard to imagine under which conditions inmates have to live, or rather “to vegetate”, in many parts of the world. They are so tightly packed and crowded, they can only sleep upstanding. Thus, infection diseases such as tuberculosis or worm diseases spread extremely fast.

The prisoners, here photographed during the intervention in 2019, are grateful for the provided help and willingly wait for their turn. Photo: humedica

Regularly, humedica sends out medical teams to prisons, for example in Togo. There, too, the hygiene conditions are worrying. The inmates do not only lack most basic hygiene facilities, but hygiene articles as well. „We bought soap at the local market to pass them on to the prisoners“, reports Roswitha Märkle, who took part in one of the prison interventions as a nurse. „But also lack of food and restricted access to clean water are constant problems in Togolese jails.”

The interventions, undertaken by humedica and its partner organizations Prison Fellowship Togo and Enfant-Food-Development (EFD) in Togo, do not only provide medical care for the people in the jails with medical care, they also demonstrate that the inmates are not forgotten. „Sometimes, the solicitude is even more important than the medical treatment itself“, intervention team members report time and again. Our teams comprise practitioners, dentists as well as nurses.

Nurse and team member Roswitha Märkle shares in her personal review, why, at the same time, this intervention has left her sad and why she nevertheless refuses to give up hope: „We visited a jail near the capital Lomé. Luckily, we were in the good care of pastor Martin and Eric, an employee of our partner organization Prison Fellowship. We were able to go to nine prisons all over the country to provide medical care. Mainly, the conditions were harrowing. In one of the jails visited by us there was only one shower and one toilet for 417 inmates, who received but one meal a day. About 55 people had to share a cell of twenty square meters for the night. Among other ailments, particularly skin diseases such as fungi and scabies were transmitted constantly“, she reports, still shocked profoundly.

Like in 2017, also in 2019 the humedica team visited jails in Togo. Photo: humedica

The materials brought by humedica helped to take necessary countermeasures in the most affected jails. All inmates received oral scabies remedies as well as new clothes. „Without exceptions, all prisoners treated by us were friendly and grateful. A 74-year old woman told us that she has been imprisoned for 15 years now and had to stay there for another five years”, tells us Roswitha Märkle.

Several times a year, humedica organizes jail interventions. The next one will take place in Togo in October 2019. Besides Togo, our medical intervention team members also help in other countries such as Sudan, Uganda or Benin.

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