Govt, UNODC build HIV Clinic for prisoners
Tertia Makurumidze Herald Reporter
Fulfilling its obligations under international rules on caring for prisoner health, Government, with the support of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), recently built the Opportunistic Infectious (OI) ART clinic and laboratory at Harare Central Prison.
The clinic and lab were officially handed over to the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) last Friday and it is set to benefit prisoners in the fight against AIDS and other infectious diseases.
UNODC regional coordinator Ms Signe Rotberga officiated at the handover ceremony.
In an acceptance speech read on his behalf, ZPCS Commissioner-General, Retired Major-General Paradzai Zimondi, applauded UNODC for the gesture.
“Today’s event means a million things, not only to ZPCS as an organisation, but also to the entire country as it marks another stride in our emphatic fight against HIV and AIDS and other opportunistic related infectious diseases,” he said.
“This is a donation that gives us a conducive ground to put yet another struggle as we fight towards an AIDS free generation. It also focuses on other infectious and opportunistic diseases that also affect our inmates.”
Comm-Gen Zimondi said attributed the donation to the long standing relationship between ZPCS and UNODC.
“Our relationship with UNODC has culminated in today’s donation which speaks volumes of them being guardian of the Mandela Rules formerly the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners,” he said.
“This will go miles in assisting the ZPCS in implementing international standards and UN Resolutions that demand that all prisoners have the right to receive health care, including HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support, without discrimination and equivalent to those available in the community.”
Comm-Gen Zimondi said the donation was necessitated by a healthcare assessment of ZPCS by UNDOC and Government.
“Some of us might be in the knowledge that this donation was necessitated by a Healthcare Assessment of Zimbabwean Prisons which was conducted by UNODC in partnership with the ZPCS, National Aids Council and the Ministry of Health and Child Care in 2012,” he said.
“The purpose of which was to conduct a rapid assessment on the status of equipment and infrastructure across some identified prison health facilities in the country in response to HIV and AIDS and TB.”
UNODC regional coordinator Ms Signe Rotberga said besides the clinic and the lab, they were also offering training to three ZPCS officers, who participated in a regional training held in Windhoek, Namibia through their support on addressing issues to do with AIDS and sexual reproductive health rights in prison.
The special OI and ART clinics are also available at Kadoma, Khami and Chikurubi prisons.
Other prisons, in the interim, are offering the services from the general clinics.
Laboratories where blood samples are tested are also found at Chinhoyi, Bindura, Mutare, Hwange and Kadoma prisons.