In response to calls for all stakeholders to assist in precautionary measures against the spread of Coronavirus, Malawi’s National Muslim Prison Board has donated sanitary products to all prisons nationwide, including regional management offices as well as the Head Office in Zomba.
The nationwide ‘Protect Through Sanition Project’ initiative towards mitigating the impact of the dreaded COVID-19 virus, will at the end of the day have distributed 110 washing stations which include a 30lt bucket with a tap together with a basin, 213 cartons of soap, 55 x 5lt disinfectant liquid and 1,000 face masks that was procured at a value of K2.5 million.
Abbas Panjwani, executive director National Muslim Prisoners Board, a nonpartisan, non-governmental and non-profit making group founded by Malawian Muslims in 2014, said “inmates and even the prison officers are usually a forgotten society and there is a need to always think of them in charity work.
“Let us embrace them, let us support and assist them throughout this pandemic that had been declared so by the World Health Organisation,” Panjwani said when the organisation presented the donation batch at Southern Regional Headquarters in Limbe on Thursday.
He said the National Muslim Prisoners Board was created in response to the needs and plight of inmates taking cognizance that some of those within the prison system were Muslims who might need some spiritual guidance to help them reform.
At the same time, the organization also continuously liaises with the Malawi Prison Services to assist where possible for all inmates.
“When the Coronavirus was declared as a global pandemic, and when the State President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika declared a State of Disaster and advocated for serious directives on the prevention of the disease, we met as an organisation to see how we can assist.
“And since our objective is towards supporting the efforts of supporting inmates, we consulted the Malawi Prison Services and together we resolved that we should assist through provision of the sanitation products.”
He said the organization took consideration that kids are at home since schools are shut down; that people can afford to work from home; that patients in hospitals and clinics are surrounded by medical personal and that social distancing is the new buzz word practised by all that ask that maximum groups should not exceed 100 people.
“Hand washing with soap and hand sanitisers are a must-have but what about the inmates — they cannot go home; they have limited medical facilities and attention and cannot observe social distancing since our prisons are overcrowded.
“Hand sanitisers and running water is by far is a luxury. So our committee unanimously agreed that we assist in this area.
“We appreciate the support we have received from Malawi Prison Services throughout the consultation and we are proud to say that by next week we would have completely distributed all the sanitary products to all 35 prison stations from Chitipa to Nsanje,” Panjwani said.
Receiving the donation for Southern Region Prisons, Inspector Risted Mabeti disclosed that there are 10 prison facilities in the region, which are Chichiri in Blantyre, Chikwawa, Bangula in Nsanje, Mulanje, Mwanza, Nsanje, Makande in Thyolo, Thyolo, Luwani in Neno and Bvumbwe Young Offenders Rehabilitation Centre.
Currently the number of inmates in their custody is 4,068, of which 3,168 are convicts, 896 are on remand and four are juveniles.
“So far we haven’t yet registered any case of Coronavirus as it is the case at national level but we are aware that prisons are one of the most prone societies as regards to the pandemic because of congestion and illegal immigrants that we keep in our prisons.
“However, following the directives set by the State President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika to take precautionary measures, the prison stations in the region have also taken steps towards that.”
He said, in collaboration with the District Health Office and other stakeholders, they have already made placements of hand washing buckets and restricted prison visits by reducing number of the general public entering the prisons.
They are also screening people entering their facilities.
“However, what we have so far done to mitigate the spread of the virus is not enough and I am very honoured today to receive this donation of sanitary products from National Muslim Prison Board.
“Much as Government is trying hard to help the department in maintenance of hygiene, we have a daunting task to reach out and cover the ever-increasing prisoner population, visitors and members of staff working in direct contact with the prisoners and their families.
“This donation will go a long way in keeping the prisoners free from Coronavirus by enhancing personal hygiene.
“We are living in a global society where people enjoy freedom of movement and the prisoners may one day also join the community at large.
“So by maintaining a healthy and hygienic prison society together we can also help to achieve a healthy society as a whole,” Mabeti said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :