Addressing nutritional needs in correctional services…
Published On December 20, 2022 » 2940 Views» By Times Reporter » Features
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By PASSY HAACHIZO –
A POOR diet is one of the major causes of ailments not only in society but also in correctional facilities where the scourge continues to impact negatively on circumstantial children.
Correctional facilities mostly depend on the food from the projects undertaken within the centres and such has a potential to allow inmates to depend on certain foods like cabbage and beans with a balanced diet being a challenge.
In 2016, the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ) carried out a research at the time the Zambia’s Correctional facilities housed 19,000 incarcerated inmates.
The study indicated that Correctional facilities were congested by 277 per cent from the normal capacity.
It further found out that the HIV prevalence rate of 27 per cent was higher than the national average which was at 12.4 per cent.
The prevalence rate for Tuberculosis in prisons stood at six per cent, a figure that was 14 times higher than the national average.
Further, the study found that challenges included initial high refusal rates, high rates of inmate transfer and release, pill sharing and trading among inmates inside cells, no clocks in cells to remind inmates about drug intake times, poor sensitisation when pill regimen changed from one to two pills and poor nutrition and access to the clinic restricted during attempted riots, breakouts or incarceration of high-profile inmates.
The study, among others, engaged Non-governmental organisation (NGO) Ubumi Prisons Initiative to provide nutritional supplementation to 50 critical cases.
This move was advanced by holding a national conference at Tuskers Hotel in Kabwe on December 7, 2022 by the Ubumi Prisons Initiative Zambia in partnership with Prisoner’s Future Foundation (PFF) focusing on the Zambia Correctional Service (ZCS) Health Strategic Plan 2022-2026 which was launched in Lusaka on November 4, 2022
The document was a build-up on the earlier one that ran from 2015 to 2020 which was limited in implementation as it lacked the baseline done prior to its actualisation; the operational plan and the framework to measure the indicators were never generated.
However, the new document had the missing component from the first document as it targets to ensure that the implementation and measuring of results is squarely associated to the plan.
PFF Director Geoffrey Mayamba says his organisation was motivated to join the partnership after listening to the inaugural speech by President Hakainde Hichilema that demonstrated unprecedented desire to improve the living conditions of inmates.
Mr Mayamba said this was evidenced by the firm alignment to the 8th National Development Plan on Health and Nutrition which resonated well with the workshop which was designed to extract from the ZCS health strategic plan two elements of interest that included nutrition and communicable diseases.
He noted that the 8th National Development Plan on Health and Nutrition shares Zambia’s Epidemiological profile that had been characterised by the high prevalence and impact of preventable and treatable communicable diseases such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
Mr Mayamba said that the major factors leading to the high disease burden were the persistence of infectious diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, pneumonia, tuberculosis and skin diseases.
He said the increase in non-communicable diseases in correctional facilities resulted from inadequate ventilation, poor diet, poor hygiene and inadequate supply of medication.
“Key national health indicators such as infant mortality, under five mortality and maternal mortality, however, improved over the review period and the national mortality rate reduced to 24 per 1, 000 live births in 2007, although it increased from 24 per 1, 000 live births in 2013/14 to 27 per 1, 000 live births in 2018,” Mr Mayamba said.
He said despite the scores, challenges still remain in the delivery of quality health services where there was a need to ensure a consistent supply of essential medical supplies as well as specialised medication, recruitment and proper placement of health personnel, enhancement of good nutrition, incorporation of adequate mental health services for inmates and staff.
“As Ubumi and PFF being Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), we want to partner with the government and ride on its efforts to improve health and nutrition,” he said. 
Ubumi Prisons Initiative Country Coordinator Lena Kresojevic said the project was targeting circumstantial children, pregnant mothers and seriously ill inmates in six facilities of Lusaka and Central provinces.
Ms Kresojevic said the two organisations were implementing a two year project in various correctional facilities to promote and secure the rights to good health and nutrition of inmates in Zambian Correctional facilities and prisons through capacity building and advocacy.
She said this at the opening of the national conference focusing on the ZCS Health Strategic Plan 2022-2026 at Tuskers hotel in Kabwe.
Ms Kresojevic said the programme that was being undertaken touched on the provision of nutritional supplements, gardens, hygiene and medication as intervention centred on the ZCS Plan.
She said the package was well-positioned as it was touching among other areas the training of ZCS health staff and inmates on the new Health Strategic Plan on nutrition and infectious diseases, collecting baselines and creating awareness on a national and regional level.
“We, therefore, support Government’s intentions to devolve the provision of district health services to enhance decision-making for effective service delivery so as to strengthen public health for the prevention and control of infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS as well as non-communicable diseases, mental health care, epidemic preparedness and control together with health security and surveillance,” Ms Kresojevic said.
Zambia Correctional Service Commissioner General Fredrick Chilukutu said the partnership was commendable.
Mr Chilukutu said this in a speech read for him by Commissioner Deputy Commissioner General Daniel Mutale Chiwela.
During the same day, a training manual was which would stand as a guiding tool for training of peer educators and others in the correctional facilities.
By and large, Ubumi Prisons Initiative and Prisoner’s Future Foundation (PFF) must be commended for supplementing Government efforts in improving the nutrition and service provision in correctional facilities.
The Government must also continue to embrace stakeholders in a bid to have a stable country with less ailments arising from concerted efforts that would have been mounted.

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