CHREAA determined to fight TB in Malawi Prisons

Chikwawa District Hospital Medical Officer, Dr. Dan Kang’ombe applauded Centre for Human Rights, Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA) for the awareness campaigns they are conducting on the danger of Tuberculosis (TB) within the district’s prison.

Chikwawa prisoners performing during the event

He said this on Thursday during the TB awareness campaign at Chikwawa Prison where he promises to conduct mass screening at the prison.

‘‘We conducted our last mass screening in February this year at the prison, but due to financial problems we have not conducted any other screening to prisoners at the facility lately,” Kang’ombe said.

The Officer noted that, ‘‘With support from other partners, we are planning to conduct mass screening in August,2018 so that we know how big the problem might be and if anything whether our prisoners are affected with it and possibly help them with medical support.’’

CHREAA Programmes Manager, Joyness Dziwani said prisoners in the country are at high risk of suffering and dying from TB due to delays in diagnosis and treatment.

‘‘Due to lack of resources, prisoners in the country are neglected and have limited access to basic health care service. This places the prison population at high risk of contracting TB,’’ she said.

Dziwani cited overcrowding, poor ventilation and air recirculation as some of the major factors contributing to the alarming increase of TB in prisons, urging both prison and health authorities to conduct regular TB screening to prisoners in a bid to reduce further spread of the disease.

‘‘In fact, prisons are supposed to conduct TB screening upon every prisoner’s entry and release but because of resource constraints they fail to do so. But we are trying to raise awareness so that other stakeholders like health and NGOs can embark mass screening in all prisons in Malawi,’’ she added.

Chikwawa Prison Officer In-Charge, Senior Superintendent Maxwell Kamowa said the TB awareness campaign conducted at the facility would go a long way in assisting the facility in reducing TB cases.

‘‘Right now we have seven TB patients on treatment, but these were diagnosed in February during the mentioned mass screening which we also fear there would be a lot more cases which we are possibly not aware of due to lack of screening services,’’ he stated.

Kamowa disclosed that Chikwawa Prison has no separate rooms for patients with TB adding that those on TB treatment were crowded together with other inmates noting that the development was a health risk.

He pleaded with other different partners to help the facility with air vent room conditioning owing to the congestion in holding cells.

‘‘We have the capacity of 240 prisoners but at the meantime we are having 458 prisoners surpassing the recommended figure a situation that automatically tells someone that there is high congestion putting lives of most inmates at risks,’’  Kamowa viewed.

CHREAA is implementing the project aimed at raising awareness on TB related risks being faced by prisoners and increase advocacy for screening of the disease and quality health services in correctional facilities.

The TB awareness project is being implemented in all prisons in the country under the theme ‘End TB in Prison, a commitment for all’ and  conducted by CHREAA with funding from the Aids Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA).


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