INMATES in Zimbabwe’s prisons are living “like rats” and are being fed “substandard food” posing a serious danger to those who are living with HIV/AIDS, Parliament has reported.
A thematic committee report on HIV and AIDS tabled in senate Monday revealed that the situation was made worse by the fact that there was a shortage of adequately trained nurses.
As a result, the report reveals, most inmates living with HIV/AIDS are dying prematurely.
“The committee was appalled to learn that prisoners do not get adequate food and the little they get was not balanced diet. HIV positive people need a nutritionally balanced diet for the ART (Anti-retroviral treatment) to be effective,” the reports said.
“Most health care workers at Chikurubi were unregistered because the institution lacks financial resources for the annul registration requirement,” the report stated.
The report was tabled at a time when peace has just been restored at Chikurubi prison after last week’s food riot by inmates.
The committee said most inmates admitted at Chikurubi, which is the country’s largest prison, do not go there with medical reports and this causes them to default on their uptake of the medication.
“Prison services medical teams should offer awareness programmes on HIV and AIDS and counselling and testing to all new prisoners. This would ensure that prisoners already on ART do not default on their treatment,” said the report.
The committee further recommended that government should introduce a law that forces everyone to be tested for HIV/AIDS “so that lives are saved”.
In Zimbabwe, at least over 1.2 million people are living with the virus and over 800 000 are on medication.
The statistics, according to officials, could be underestimated as most people, especially the elite and youths, are reluctant to go for testing.