The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health is a fundamental human right of every human being without discrimination. However, prisoners suffer a disproportionate burden of health problems as their health needs are often neglected. The United Nations (1990) Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners set out that "prisoners shall have access to the health services available in the country without discrimination on the grounds of their legal situation" (Principle 9, A/RES/45/111).
In this context, increased efforts are required to ensure a health promoting prison, which is described as having the following elements:
- health services are equivalent to what is provided in the country as a whole;
- the risks to health are reduced to a minimum; and
- that the dignity and human rights of every prisoner are respected.