Zambian prisons death traps – Medics

23 December 2016
Author :   AARON CHIYANZO, Daily Nation Zambia, December 22, 2016

PRISONS in Zambia are a health hazard and a death trap for prisoners, and there is need for the private sector to get involved and help mitigate the situation, Zambia Medical Association (ZMA) president Aaron Mujajati has said.

Dr. Mujajati said prisons in Zambia were too congested and that the sanitary conditions were also extremely poor.

He said in an interview with the Daily Nation that there were a lot of health hazards that came as a result of overcrowding in prisons.

Dr. Mujajati pointed out that the conditions in prisons across the country were inhuman and that was the reason diseases such as tuberculosis were prevalent.

He called on the private sector to get on board and help sustain Government’s efforts in ensuring that enough correctional facilities were built and living conditions improved.

Dr. Mujajati explained that decongesting the correctional facilities and improving the sanitary conditions were some of the immediate remedies to the current disease burden in prisons.

“We are very concerned with the state of our prisons; they are too overcrowded and they are health hazards that come as a result of that. If you look at the number of people in there, the number of toilets, bed space, and the conditions are simply inhuman. TB is a problem in our prisons because of overcrowding, so the private sector should get on board and help sustain Government’s efforts,” he said.

Dr. Mujajati warned that the current situation in Zambian prisons was a death trap and capable of increasing the disease burden in the country if left unchecked.

He pointed out that inmates whom he said were the least considered people in Zambia would continue dying at a high rate if immediate steps were not taken to mitigate the situation.

Dr. Mujajati explained that inmates risked contracting HIV/AIDS in prison and that they were likely to continue the spread of the virus to other people when they came out.

And Dr. Mujajati bemoaned the deplorable state some of the correctional facilities across the country were in.

He noted that concern and care was only given to a selected few facilities especially in major cities but that most of the others were in a dilapidated state.

Dr. Mujajati also called on Government to consider other ways of punishing offenders such as non-custodial sentences for minor offences in order to decongest correctional facilities.

And Zambia Correctional Service spokesperson Maggie Nawa disclosed that a few business persons and private companies had been coming on board but that there was still need for private sector engagement.

Ms Nawa said that most of the correctional facilities in rural areas were still largely not recognised by the private sector in terms of donations and that they were in a dilapidated state.

She also called on the private sector to come on board and help mitigate the challenges the inmates were facing.


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