Palliative care for terminally ill inmates: Does the state have a legal obligation?

05 Sep 2012

‘We ought to give those who are to leave life … the terminally ill … the same care and attention that we give those who enter life – the new-born.’1 In this article it is contended that terminally ill inmates have a right to palliative care and that the State has a duty to fulfil this right. The number of unsuccessful medical parole applications and recorded natural deaths of inmates is considered as indicative of the problem of terminally ill inmates in South African prisons. It is further contended that the State’s obligation arises from an inmate’s constitutional right to health care and from an increasingly recognised international human right to palliative care.