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Bridging Healthcare Gaps in Davao City Jail's Female Dormitory

Bridging Healthcare Gaps in Davao City Jail's Female Dormitory By Ma. Kristine Buenafe and Reann Mantilla

In the shadows of confinement, amidst steel bars and echoing silence, beats the heart of humanity yearning for compassion. Among the multifaceted challenges encountered by women and lesbians, bisexuals, and transmen (LBT) individuals among persons deprived of liberty (PDLs), it becomes evident that the experiences of women—especially those within correctional facilities—are far from uniform.

But within the somber walls of Davao City Female Jail Dormitory, a ray of hope pierced through the darkness as the voices of the marginalized found resonance in the corridors of care.

As part of the National Celebration of Women’s Month, the Davao City Justice Zone, headed by the Convenor Executive Judge Retrina Espe-Fuentes, with the support from the EU-GOJUST II Programme, and in collaboration with the Davao Regional Medical Center headed by its mission leader Dr. Rodel Flores, recently conducted a medical and surgical mission within the confines of Davao City Jail.

This mission aimed to provide essential medical services to female inmates. 30 medical teams were deployed, composed of specialists in different fields such as family medicine, OB-Gyne, medical social workers, and pharmacists.

“This medical mission is very helpful to our sisters behind bars to help boost their confidence, their self-esteem, and for self-awareness that they are healthy,” shares an assistant warden of the female dormitory during the mission.

These professionals offered a comprehensive range of services, including general consultations, eye check-ups with the provision of eyeglasses and reading glasses, laboratory tests, provision of medicines, and regular women's check-ups such as pap smears, prenatal, ultrasound, and other sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services. Additionally, medicines were provided to ensure the continued well-being of the PDLs.

Expressing their gratitude, the PDLs conveyed heartfelt thanks to the organizers for bringing crucial health services directly to the jail premises. Notably, the Davao City JZ has committed to making these medical missions a regular program, reflecting their dedication to prioritizing the health needs of the incarcerated population.

Executive Judge Catherine Barrion, MTCC, confidently asserts, “The Davao City Justice Zone seeks to address this basic right to health of PDLs as it undertakes to continuously coordinate with other agencies in providing this service to the PDLs.”

The successful implementation of this medical mission highlights the collaborative efforts of government agencies, healthcare institutions, and humanitarian organizations in addressing the healthcare needs of marginalized communities. Through such initiatives, the Davao City JZ and its partners continue to make significant strides in promoting access to quality healthcare services and advancing the well-being of all individuals within the justice system. The Davao JZ will also continue to lobby to the BJMP Region XI and other agencies to provide an exclusive separate room for sexual reproductive health examination for women and transmen PDLs.

But for the women behind bars, this was more than just a medical mission; it was a lifeline—a lifeline tethering them to a world where their well-being mattered, where their voices were heard, and where their humanity was honored. Within the confines of incarceration, amidst the clamor of confinement, the spirit of compassion soared, reminding us all that even in the darkest of nights, the light of empathy shines brightest.


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