By Sheldon Hakata

HEALTH is a fundamental human right as enshrined in our Constitution.

The establishment of a Centre of Excellence at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison by the Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF) in collaboration with the Government of Zimbabwe through the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) is, therefore, a most welcome development.

This is in line with the Government’s thrust of developing and improving the health service delivery system for the benefit of its citizenry.

Through the visionary leadership of our listening President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe is poised for a healthy and prosperous nation as the country marches confidently towards Vision 2030. 

“Leaving no-one and no place behind’’ is the President’s mantra that entails that development is synonymous with every sector, a robust health delivery system being a key cog of that drive.

In a vote of thanks to AHF Zimbabwe for its involvement in capacitating health facilities theoughout Zimbabwe, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora said:

“May I encourage other like-minded organisations to continue expanding and advancing their support to the Second Republic’s endeavour to improve the living standards of our citizens. Together we will guarantee the provision of quality healthcare to our communities.”

Dr Mombeshora declared the Centre of Excellence at Chikurubi Maximum Complex officially opened on Friday last week. 

Located on the outskirts of the capital, Harare,  Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison is ‘home’ to about 17 000 at any given time.

ZPCS has a total of 46 prisons countrywide, of which two (Chikurubi and Shurugwi) cater for female prisoners. Largely due to the overcrowded living conditions, Zimbabwe’s prisons have been  declared HIV/AIDS hotspots.

As we reflect on Vision 2030, it is quite obvious that the social development pillar signifies the Government’s unwavering dedication to establishing an efficient, integrated and high-quality healthcare system in Zimbabwe.

In pursuit of its pro-people policies, the Government is cognisant of the significance of good health for all and its unwavering commitment to the establishment of an efficient, integrated and high-quality healthcare system.

Partners such as AHF Zimbabwe and related international and local organisations have demonstrated their commitment  towards the achievement of key national goals by supporting the health sector through medical and technical provisions, infrastructure development and capacitation of human resources.

AHF Zimbabwe is currently providing medical care and treatment services in 45 countries worldwide and 13 of them in Africa, among them Zimbabwe’s SADC neighbours — South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia. 

The organisation should be applauded for aligning its programmes to feed into the country’s National Health Strategy (NHS) which seeks to improve the health and well-being of Zimbabwe’s 17 million people.

Launched in September 2016 following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Health and Child Care, one of AFH’s key objectives is the transformation of clinics at central and provincial hospitals into Centres of Excellence for HIV treatment and care.

It has, so far, delivered on its mandate by establishing Centres of Excellence at Parirenyatwa, Mpilo, Sally Mugabe and Gweru hospitals while extending assistance to several provincial and central hospitals as well as clinics countrywide.

The partnership with Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison is the first of several to come with Khami Prison Complex next on the list once a needs assessment is done.

The Zimbabwe National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan 2021-2025 (ZNASP IV) seeks to accelerate progress towards ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 through guiding HIV programmes, resource allocation and implementation of the HIV response.

The Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison complex community at large is expected benefit from the establishment of this state-of-the-art facility since it will not be restricted to HIV/AIDS issues but will be expanded to health matters across the board.

In line with President Mnangagwa’s clarion call that ‘nyika inovakwa nevene vayo/ilizwe lakhiwa ngabanizani balo’, the inmates were directly involved in the construction of the Centre of Excellence as part of ZPCS’s rehabilitation programme. 

The deliberate involvement of inmates in such innovative projects is commendable as it equips them with essential life skills which will come in handy once they rejoin society on release.

In this regard, ZPCS would have fulfilled its constitutional mandate of rehabilitating offenders and facilitating their reintegration into society where they are expected to live as productive and law-abiding citizens.

Other beneficiaries of the collaboration between the Government and AHF Zimbabwe are two prison psychiatric units (male and female) at Chikurubi and another at Mlondolozi in Bulawayo.

Chikurubi Psychiatric Unit admits patients from the five provinces of Harare, Chitungwiza, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East and Manicaland.

The patients fall into three categories, namely civil patients, detained mental patients (DMP) and criminal mental patients (CMP).

Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison houses 273 psych inmates, 21 CMPs in halls, 49 DMPs in psych, two DMPs in halls and 17 psych criminal patients — giving a total of  362 patients.

Conditions associated with this dilemma are as follows: substance-induced psychosis (50 percent); schizophrenia (30 percent); organic psychosis (10 percent); epilepsy and dementia (5 percent each).     

According to official records, Manicaland supplies the  lion’s share of psychiatric patients accommodated at the Chikurubi Psychiatric Unit, followed by Harare, with Chitungwiza not far behind.

Despite the ballooning number of patients, the technical staff assess the patients on daily basis while psychiatric doctors do the same every Thursday.

However, there are operational challenges as well as staff attrition (mental and general nurses), water shortages, overcrowding, inadequate clothing, blankets, jerseys and shortage of anti-psychotics.


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