“Nearly 80% of inmates use drugs,” a doctor from Saint-Gilles prison says in Sudpresse Thursday headlines. The day before, Minister of Public Health Maggie De Block visited the prison as part of a pilot project for tailor-made care for each addict.
According to Dr. Fokoua Mouafa, head doctor at Saint-Gilles prison, “80% of prisoners who have been in prison for at least three months, use drugs directly or indirectly (…) If we only count inmates who use drugs directly, one is looking at 40-50%. All depends on the length of stay. The longer you remain in prison, the greater are your chances of taking drugs,” he observes.
Beyond inmates’ despair, “drugs are a contagious disease. In prison, more than anywhere else, there is a group effect: to feel part of the family, you take drugs like everybody else. You can also enter into schemes where a joint or other substances become a bargaining chip,” the doctor explains.
The Minister of Public Health visited Wednesday this penitentiary in the context of a pilot project led in the prisons of Lantin and Hasselt. This 1.4 million euro project aims at tailoring care for each addict. “By providing them with customized treatment, we help them avoid numerous health problems, and we also improve security in prison,” believes Maggie De Block, who plans to expand the program to the entire country, Sudpresse specifies.