Prison Medicine

Course for physicians working in prison: human rights/ethics

A web-based course for health care personnel working in prisons

The Norwegian Medical Association, in cooperation with the World Medical Association, has developed a web-based course on Human Rights and Ethics for Prison Doctors. Various associations and organisations have also contributed to the course.

The prison doctor’s challenges

Doctors working in prisons face problems that are different from those encountered by doctors working with the ordinary population. Prison doctors must be able to provide adequate health care in the particular environment that exist in prisons. The doctor’s conduct must not be in conflict with international human rights and ethical standards.

In many countries the education of prison doctors is not a priority. Many doctors do not even have access to international conventions and rules regulating health care services for prisoners. They encounter human rights violations, but do not know how to deal with them adequately. We hope this course will meet some of the needs many prison doctors have for more knowledge and skills in human rights and medical ethics.

Objectives of the programme

The objectives of the course are to present relevant international statements regulating the medical treatment of prisoners and to raise prison doctors’ awareness of their role in various areas of conflicting interests between the prisoner (patient) and the prison administration, for example, hunger strikes, the patient’s right to confidentiality, certifying prisoners for special punishment, etc.

Accessible from anywhere

The course is accessible for anyone with an internet connection. Doctors and other health personnel working in prison can take the course at their own pace and whenever they want. The participants do not have to complete the whole course in one go. The course is divided into lessons and the system records the lessons the participant has completed.


The Norwegian Medical Association has accredited the course for 12 hours/points in post graduate and continuing medical education. They have applied for accreditation from the European Accreditation Council for CME.

Course fee

The course is free of charge.


The course is sponsored by The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The authors and editors have contributed on a pro bono basis.

The course is accessible at: Doctors working in prison: human rights and ethical dilemmas