Moldova's prison system has a shortage of 55 medical staff

Even though the state, with the support of external partners, is making significant efforts to ensure that prisoners have better conditions and quality medical care, another problem is the shortage of medical staff. Currently, the National Administration of Penitentiaries needs 55 medical workers.

Representatives of the institution say that the reasons why medical staff are reluctant to work in isolation units are psychological and financial.

There are 18 prisons in the Republic of Moldova, and according to the National Administration of Penitentiaries (ANP), 14 of them have accredited outpatient medical departments. In other words, medical services are provided in accordance with national standards. Even though they have equipment and everything they need to intervene in an emergency, the prison medical system is short of employees.

"In ten outpatient medical departments, there is no head of medical service and the same general practitioner," said Irina Barbîroș, head of the ANP's Medical Directorate.

According to her, there are 35 vacancies for doctors and 20 for nurses within the ANP, but they are not being taken up by medical workers. One reason is the low salary, Barbîroș says. On average, a doctor earns 12,000 lei per month, and a nurse earns 10,000 lei. Another reason is psychological factors.

"There is a specific nature to the prison system, and perhaps not every doctor is psychologically prepared to work with a more specific patient group. This could be a factor. Another factor is that doctors are emigrating, and we know that they are looking for better salaries," Barbîroș also noted.

Barbîroș's comments are confirmed by ANP director Anatolie Falca, who says that the problem is not just theirs, but the entire medical system.

"We have a shortage of medical workers in all areas, both doctors and nurses, but the problem is not just in the prison system, but in the whole republic," said Anatolie Falca.

Justice Minister Veronica Mihailov-Moraru says that the institution she heads is trying to solve this problem.

"The problem is with the medical staff. We don't have qualified medical personnel here who can meet all the specialisations, but we are trying to make efforts in this regard," said the minister.

Currently, there are 200 medical workers in all prisons in the country, who care for the health of over 5,700 prisoners. A mathematical calculation shows that one employee is responsible for 28 patients.

Translation by Iurie Tataru

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