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A Prionieer Doctor

Doctor Fadi Meroueh received the Johannes Feest prize for his work with detainees at the prison where he has served for twenty-six years !

Neon sports outfit, bare feet and goatee anchored above an ineffable

smile, his silhouette brightens up the corridors of the prison. Fadi Meroueh, Chief Medical Officer

is greeted by cascading “hello doctor”. Inmates and staff

caregiver are not surprised for a long time. Only motorists who

see the man running barefoot Along the road between Montpellier and

Villeneuve-lès-Maguelone wonder.

Fadi Meroueh has worked for 26 years behind the bars of the remand center

of Villeneuve-lès-Maguelone. “I wanted to be a prison visitor but I had to

be part of an association. The doctor then exercises as a liberal, since 1994,

in the center of Montpellier. When the opportunity arises to work

“VLM”, he doesn't hesitate for a second. “There was no team, no structure

medical. Very quickly, he spent more time caring for the prisoners than his

patients. Until finally closing the doors of his firm in 2004. The

salary is less attractive. But The exciting challenge. Hippocratic Oath

in mind, he set himself the mission of "treating inside the prison as one

care outside”. He sees no difference.

He builds an unbreakable bond of trust with the detainees. "I can't be

attending physician and respond to a requisition. » A line of conduct

irremovable who played tricks on him with the penitentiary. And earned him some

criticism from magistrates or lawyers. “I do not respond to any request from

administration. It's up to the person to talk if they want to. I can incite

but not do it for him”. Confidentiality is for him the basis of the

relationship. It is not authorized as the only sprain in the case of minors - they are a

fortnight at VLM - or very vulnerable people.

Dr. Meroueh considers his patients for who they are, not what they have done. "

A second chance is always possible. Prison changed my view of

world. All is not black inside and white outside. “Today his attitude

is no longer questioned. “We may not agree. But when we are

constant on a line, people come to see it and respect it. »

“The courage to disobey orders contrary to the well-being to be one of his patients"

His work to develop the care unit commands respect. The locals have

doubled in size, The staff, which depends on the CHU, has tripled. doctor, physiotherapist,

dentist, radiologist, pharmacist, nurse: they are thirty time equivalents

full for a prison population that fluctuates between 850 and 950 prisoners. There

Chalandon prison, opened in the 1990s, was designed to house 593

people. “People are happy to work here, there is no turnover

in the teams. They are going to retire! »

Another reason for satisfaction: The work done in terms of health prevention.

Fadi Meroueh has just won the 2023 Johannes Feest Prize. Awarded during the

“European Conferences on Health Promotion in Prison”, this award

rewards "people who have made a significant contribution to

the improvement of the health of prisoners and have made it possible to draw attention to this

theme", His record on this chapter is flattering. “VLM is the only prison where we have

succeeded in eradicating hepatitis C.” Thanks to a prevention policy

method based on screening, speed of treatment and patient follow-up. Other

priority: the prevalence of addictions. A plague. “We were one of

first prisons to use substitution drugs by injection

since 2021. The effect lasts for a month. » Drug addicts go unnoticed and

avoid The racket of opiate substitution drugs, subutex and

metadone. A real breakthrough.

The jury of the Johannes Feest Prize describes Fadi Meroueh as a "pioneer in France" and

salutes his "courage to disobey orders that he deems contrary to the well-being and

the health of his patients. He also stresses the importance of the dissemination of his

know in the prisons of the world. President of Health without barriers,

European association of health workers in prison, he defends everywhere

respect for human dignity. Behind the walls of all prisons. A

Modern day Gandhi.

The head doctor of the Villeneuve-lès-Maguelone prison, winner of the

Johannes Fcest Prize, is rewarded for his prevention work in prison.


Texts: Cathy Soun

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