The Right to Health Care of Terminally Ill Inmates in South Africa
Albertus, Chesne Joy
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In South Africa, prison authorities are not primarily concerned with the health of the prison population. This is evidenced by inter alia: the vast number of complaints regarding health care received by the Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Centres; natural deaths in prisons reported annually; litigation regarding health care and treatment in prisons; and the notoriously poor conditions of detention which inevitably have a negative impact on prisoners' health. There is as a result a noticeable difference between state provided health care to the public and health care in prisons. This thesis is therefore aimed at unpacking what the right to health means in respect of terminally ill prisoners. This question has been overshadowed by issues regarding medical parole in South Africa and intermittently by calls for palliative care in prisons. Whilst these issues are relevant to their plight, there is a need to articulate the scope of the right to health of terminally ill prisoners. This is imperative as not all prisoners who are terminally ill are eligible for medical parole and there are instances where the granting of such parole may be impractical. An analysis of the right to health in relation to terminally ill prisoners will provide legal certainty as to the legal entitlements regarding health care for one of the most vulnerable groups in society. They will know what they may legally claim and what they cannot insist upon in terms of the law.