THE Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) has called on the government to urgently address the issue of disease outbreak and food shortages in prisons following reports that over 100 inmates had died of hunger since January this year.
In a statement yesterday, the association said prisoners were entitled to good health and the government should ensure they have access to food and other health requirements.
“The Prisons and Correctional Services of Zimbabwe must ensure that the prison health system is integrated into the public health system and establish linkages and synergies with the Health and Child Care ministry in an effort to stem disease outbreaks in prisons and curb preventable deaths,” ZADHR said.
Last week, Zimbabwe Prison Services deputy commissioner Aggrey Machingauta told Parliament that prisoners were surviving on one meal a day due to funding constraints.
Her sentiments were echoed by the Justice secretary Virginia Mabhiza, but Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa dismissed the reports saying they were not true.
“The central government must prioritise and increase budget allocations to prisons to ensure the mandatory dietary regime of three meals a day to improve inmates’ health conditions is maintained. The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners must be upheld to ensure the health rights, registration, personal hygiene, clothing and bedding, food, exercise and sport, medical services, discipline and punishment, information to and complaints by prisoners, contact with the outside world, books and religion are upheld.”
“The new Constitution provides protection for arrested, detained persons and sentenced prisoners under Section 50 where it is established that such persons now have the right to consult with a medical practitioner of their choice at their own expense, conditions of detention that are consistent with human dignity, including the opportunity for physical exercise and the provision at State expense, of adequate accommodation, ablution facilities, personal hygiene, nutrition, appropriate reading material and medical treatment,” the statement read.