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Drugnet Europe News from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction — January–March 2010

Health and prisons in Europe

Prisoners are entitled to the same level of medical care as persons living in the community. Prison health services should therefore be able to provide treatment for drug problems in conditions comparable to those offered outside prison. This general principle of equivalence is recognised within the EU by a 2003 Council recommendation on the prevention and reduction of health-related harm associated with drug dependence. The current EU drugs action plan (2009–12) calls for its implementation.

The issue of health in prisons was the focus of two European conferences held in October and November in Madrid and Oslo. The first, organised among others by the Spanish authorities, the World Health Organization, the EMCDDA and the UNODC, was the ‘Prison Health Protection Conference’. The second, ‘Good Prison Health — Better Public Health — Safer Society’, was held under the auspices of the Northern Dimension Partnership on Health and Social Wellbeing.

Several issues regarding prison health and drug use were raised at these events, including the high proportion of drug users in prison, the spread of infectious diseases and the high risk of drug-related deaths after release from prison. The events resulted in specific recommendations covering topics such as the prevention of post-release mortality, notably via the continuation of substitution treatment in prison. Also stressed was the need to boost evidence-based treatment in prison and to strengthen the link between prison and public health services.

Linda Montanari, Dagmar Hedrich and Lucas Wiessing


Drugnet Europe is the EMCDDA's newsletter launched in September 1996. The newsletter provides regular and succint information on the Centre's projects and activities to a broad readership.

Page last updated: Thursday, 11 March 2010