Home / Activities / Migration and Health / Health Prevention in the Italian Prison Population

Health Prevention in the Italian Prison Population

The protection of migrants’ health held in the Italian penal institutions is one of the most complex aspects of the prevention and care of the foreign population in Italy, which consequences have a significant impact on the health status of both the prison population and the community of origin.

According to the data of the Ministry of Justice (retrieved on 31/03/2017), 19,165 foreign inmates (presently the 34% of the total) are currently imprisoned in Italian penal institutions. Women represents the 5% of the prison population. As for citizenship, inmates of Moroccan origin are largely represented in Italian prisons (18.2% of total foreign prisoners), followed by Romanian (14.2%), Albanians (13.6%) and Tunisian (10.6%).

In accordance with the provisions of the Prime Ministerial Decree (D.P.C.M. of April 1, 2008), the Italian National Health Service (SSN) is responsible for health (general and specialized medicine), labor relations, financial resources, equipment and capital goods in the field of penal health. The legal standard marks an important innovation in the prison health system, where Regions and local health authorities have embraced the functions that were formerly under the responsibility of the Prison Administration Department and the Department of Juvenile Justice of the Ministry of Justice. The regulatory framework therefore transferred to the SSN the responsibility to put in place all the measures to ensure the health of the prison population and, among them, the particularly vulnerable component of migrant detainees.



The project aims at identifying priority health needs to address prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation interventions, particularly focusing on the recording and treatment of chronic pain.

After giving a description of the prevalent diseases among prisoners, according to typology and sociodemographic characteristics, the project aims at identifying the major risk factors.

In addition, the project aims at setting up and conducting significant screening and health education campaigns with regard to the main identified pathologies and at promoting a better health management of detainees through training and stewardship interventions addressed to doctors, psychologists, nurses and other health care staff in prison service.

Lastly, the project aims at promoting health among foreign and national detainees.