Seven inmates of the Kumasi Central Prisons died of HIV/AIDS between January and December this year.
Mr. Ambrose Salifu, Deputy Director of Prisons in-charge of Ashanti Region who announced this, attributed the deaths to lack of support and co-operation from some healthcare providers in the region who refused to give the necessary medical attention to the sick inmates.
Mr Salifu made the disclosure in Kumasi when the Most Reverend Peter Akwasi Sarpong, Catholic Archbishop of Kumasi conducted a service for the prisoners, having adopted the prison 35 years ago.
He stated that as a result of the closure of the James Fort Prisons this year, the Kumasi Central Prisons, which is supposed to take a maximum of 600 inmates, now had 1,693 because it had to absorb some prisoners from the James Fort Prisons.
This, he said, has led to the current congestion in the prison and does not augur well for the health of the inmates as it could lead to the spread of diseases, saying in the case of any outbreak it would be disastrous.
The Deputy Director commended Archbishop Sarpong for his tremendous support to the Prisons Service over the years, indicating that his adoption of the facility had brought great relief and comfort to both staff and the inmates.
Mr. Salifu as well eulogized the Catholic Church for its regular visits to all prisons in the region to donate items, counsel or share the word of God, and used the opportunity to appeal to other religious groups to help erect a shed in the home to be used for recreational purposes.
Archbishop Sarpong called on the inmates not to give up on life even after they have served their terms but reflect soberly on what went wrong in their lives and change for the better.
He as well commended the prison authorities for their collaborative efforts and the good reception given him anytime he visited the place and pledged to continue praying and supporting the inmates.
Most Reverend Akwasi Sarpong donated assorted items to the inmates.
The items included used clothing, toiletries, bags of gari as well as cooked rice and kenkey among others.
Making the presentation on behalf of the Archbishop, the Most Rev Gabriel Justice Yaw Anokye, Auxiliary Bishop of the Kumasi Archdiocese, said the items, which came from some Catholic faithful in Kumasi was the Church's widow's mite to the inmates, some of whom had been rejected by their families.
He urged the prisoners not to forsake the Lord, especially while in prison, asking those who had been wrongly accused to forgive their accusers and rather pray to God to forgive them, making reference to the biblical instance where Stephen prayed to God not to punish those who accused him wrongly and killed him.
Most Rev Anokye appealed to society to avoid stigmatising ex-convicts and instead welcome and assist them to cope with life after serving their terms, since any attempt at embarrassing them would compel them to go back to those social vices which sent them to prison.
Reverend Martin Paddy, Deputy Director of Prisons and Chaplain in-charge of Ashanti, who received the items, was full of praise for the Catholic Church for its constant support towards the upkeep of the inmates.
He appealed to other religious groups, non-governmental organizations, philanthropists and others to emulate the gesture to complement government's effort towards the upkeep of the inmates. GNA