Is Moldova leading the world on harm reduction in prisons?


Is Moldova leading the world on harm reduction in prisons?

7 February 2014

By Michel D. Kazatchkine - UN Secretary General‘s Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Recently in Moldova visiting government officials, I was invited to visit the prison 15 in Cricovia which houses some 550 inmates.

A 30 minute ride from Chisinau, Moldova's capital, and set amongst gentle hills and vineyards, prison 15 was built by the Soviets in the fifties and is reasonably well kept, despite cracks in the walls. A small orthodox chapel opens up on to its courtyard.

My colleagues and I are greeted by Svetlana, a young and energetic woman who heads the national penitentiary health service. Passing through the iron gate to enter the prison is somewhat uneasy. The guards, wearing large high caps and in military uniform, greet us good morning while trying to work out just what it is that brings these new visitors to their prison.

Outside the temperature is around zero, and some snow still lines the prison's own mini courtyard. I notice t-shirts and towels are suspended to dry on lines hooked between the two-three story buildings surrounding the courtyard.

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