Saturday 19 May 2018


THE Government has channelled $20 million from the $600 million received from Global Fund towards the distribution of condoms among inmates in the country’s prisons and HIV testing and treatment to curb the spread of the virus.

Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care Dr Ruth Labode told Parliament on Thursday that it was high time the country realised that the distribution of condoms to prisoners was critical in the fight against HIV and Aids.

Parliament was discussing a study tour visit by the committee to Lesotho on the implementation of the HIV and Aids prevention package in prisons.

Four Members of Parliament and prison officials from the Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services (ZPCS), the Ministry of Health and Child Care and National Aids Council went to Lesotho for the study tour.

“We applied for funding last year to the Global Fund and requested $600 million for our health sector. Out of that money, we requested for $20 million in particular to go towards men having sex with men in prison, gays and lesbians. The issue of condoms in prisons may sound like taboo but I just want to give the Parliamentarians some background. We applied as a nation, as a Government, which means we acknowledge that prisoners are infecting each other and we also accept that gays and lesbians exist in our country,” said Dr Labode.

She argued that if the Ministry of Health was training its workers on how to treat anal transmitted diseases, it was a clear sign that the country was acknowledging the crisis in prisons.

“If the Ministry of Health can call its workers and train them how to treat anal infections, that is an acknowledgment by Government. It is no longer a secret. All we need to do is allow condoms and testing of HIV in prisons. Actually and preferably, let’s even test them before they go to prisons and they go with their condoms to prisons. We also need to test them for TB because if everybody going into that prison has been tested for TB it means they will all be clean. I know it’s against our religions and culture but its reality and as a Government, we’ve accepted it,” said Dr Labode.
Binga North legislator, Mr Prince Sibanda, who is a member of the committee, concurred that it was important for the health ministry to concentrate on prisons if HIV was to be eliminated in the country.

“This was a culmination of a number of workshops that were held by the Committee on Health and Child Care and the Thematic Committee on HIV and AIDS together with numerous stakeholders including civil society organisations that are concerned with reducing the transmission of HIV and Aids in the country.

“During these workshops, it was observed that one of the challenges that can make us fail to achieve the objective of eliminating new infections of HIV and Aids by 2030 was the spread of the virus in our prison setups,” said MP Sibanda.

He added that it was a fact that prisoners were infecting each other with HIV and Aids and it was important for the country to reduce infections.

Another member of the committee, Shamva South MP, Joseph Mapiki said there was no need for a law to be enacted to allow condom distribution in prisons.  Chronicle


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