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Indian Journal of Community Medicine

Letter to Editor
Morbidity Pattern Among Prisoners of Central Jail, Hindalga, Belgaum, Karnataka

Author(s): Asha A Bellad, Vijaya A Naik, MD Mallapur

Vol. 32, No. 4 (2007-10 - 2007-12)

ISSN No. 0970-0218

Prison population consists of an over representation of members of the most marginalized groups in society, people with poor health and chronic untreated conditions. This population is an underserved section of the society. Often their health problems are neglected. There are problems of tuberculosis, skin infection, HIV/AIDS and anxiety etc. A study carried out among inmates of Yerwada Jail revealed that skin disorders were the commonest ailments followed by dental, ENT disorders, respiratory tract infection and eye conditions.1 Another study done among inmates of the Bangalore Central Prison revealed that 1.98% had HIV infection.2

Reforming the delivery of prison health care is one of the most important aspects of improving human rights compliance. Therefore knowing the types of morbidities among them will help us in taking actions which will reduce the disease burden in this group and will also help in re-integration of prisoners into mainstream society following their discharge from prison.3 The objective of this article is to study the different types of morbidities, their incidence and prevalence among prisoners.

The Hindalga Jail spreads over an area of 99 acres. It has a capacity to accommodate 1,162 prisoners. During the study period there were 850 prisoners lodge in the jail. The jail has two buildings known as circles. The first circle has 7 barracks wherein the convicted life term and other short term prisoners are made to work and stay. The second circle has 4 blocks where under trial prisoners are lodged. The short term prisoners stay in the jail from few months to few years.

In the present study any disease lasting for the period of 0-4 weeks was considered as acute morbidity. Any disease exceeding this period was considered as chronic morbidity (However, the definition of acute and chronic morbidity vary according to the type of disease and the system affected).

A large number of the prisoners were male (92%) and 56.87% of the prisoners were in the age group of 30-49 years. Almost 61.00% of the prisoners were literates. However only 37.50% of females were literates. Majority of the prisoners belonged to Social Class-IV (43.10%), with only 10.20% of prisoners belonging to Class-II according to modified Prasad’s classification.4

Almost 2/3rd of the study populations were unskilled workers, working as farmers, labourers and coolie. Amongst females, 50% of them were house wives. Almost 90% of the prisoners had committed murder, remaining crime being theft, attempt to murder, rape and cheating. Follow-up of these prisoners for a period of 1 year revealed that anaemia (54.82%) was the commonest morbidity among chronic morbidity followed by AURTI (21.75%) and diarrhoea (13%) for acute morbidity. Pulmonary TB and HIV contributed 2% and 1.5% respectively. Other Morbidity were Diabetes (3.6%), senile cataract (7%), Pyoderma (12%) etc.

The incidence of AURTI / Prisoner/Yr was 1.53, diarrhoea was 0.93, ALRTI was 0.63 and gastritis was 0.35. Episodes of both AURTI and ALRTI were common in the rainy season. (P < 0.001 and P < 0.001 respectively). The physical conditions and infrastructure in the prison were poor. The prisoners did not have access to safe water leading to diarrhoea (13%). More than half of the prisoners were anaemic which was due to lack of nutritious diet.1


We are thankful to the prison authorities of the Hindalga jail for their kind co-operation throughout the study and also to the prisoners for their active participation in the study


  1. Gupta RK, Singh GPI, Gupta RR. Health status of inmates of a prison. Indian J Commun Med 2001;26:86-9.
  2. Sundar M, Ravikumar KK, Sudarshan MK. A cross sectional seroprevalence survey for HIV 1 and high risk sexual behavior of seropositives in a prison in India. Public Health 1995;39:116-8.
  3. Kuruvila M, Ismail SM, Pramod K. Pattern of dermatoses among inmates of district prison-mangalore. Indian J Dermatol 2002;68:16-8.
  4. Park K. Textbook of preventive and social medicine. 17th ed. M/s. Banarasidas Bhanot Publishers: Jabalpur; 2002.

Asha A Bellad, Vijaya A Naik, MD Mallapur
Department of Community Medicine, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Nehru Nagar, Belgaum, Karnataka, India.
E-mail: drashabellad(at)
Received: 31.03.06
Accepted: 19.01.07

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