TEDDY KUYELA, Lusaka
THE United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) yesterday launched a joint regional programme dubbed Promoting Human Rights and Access to Health Services in Prisons in southern Africa.
Southern Africa remains the epicentre of the global HIV and tuberculosis (TB) epidemics.
This is according to a statement issued in Lusaka yesterday.
The statement reads that though the Southern African Development Community (SADC) constitutes much less than five percent of the global population, it is home to about 20 percent of the people living with HIV in the world.
â€œAs prison populations globally tend to have a higher HIV prevalence than the general population, reducing transmission and improving treatment, care and support in prisons is an integral part of reducing the spread of infection in the broader society,â€ the statement reads.
This programme is designed around the understanding of the need to improve the situation at both policy and service delivery levels to contribute to more effective and sustainable improvement of health and realisation of rights of prison populations in the targeted countries such as Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The statement reads that in close cooperation with the member States, the regional programme will provide technical assistance for data collection and monitoring, advocacy, policy development, capacity building, coordination, health service delivery and rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-prisoners.
The programme builds on and complements the ongoing successful implementation of HIV in Prisons Programmes both by UNODC and VSO in sub-Saharan Africa and will benefit from the joint experience and expertise.
The regional programme is made possible by the financial support from the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, the government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Swedish International Development Agency and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.
TEDDY KUYELA, Lusaka