TB Case Study

Posted by ARASA on July 15, 2016

TB Case Study

TB in Zambian Prisons

Prisoners in Zambia are afected by malnutrition, overcrowding, grossly inadequate medical care, and the risk of rape or torture, according to the Prisons Care and Counselling Association (PRISCCA), AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), and Human Rights Watch: three human rights organisation working together to address human rights violations of prisoners in Zambia.

The conditions in TB isolation cells are life-threatening, yet inmates who have completed TB treatment choose to continue sleeping in the cells with prisoners with active TB because they are less crowded than general population cells.

Medical care in the prison was non-existent when this advocacy started in 2009. The scenario was bleak: with the Zambia Prisons Service employing only 14 healthcare workers to serve 15 300 inmates, and only 15 of the country’s 86 prisons had clinics or sick bays. Inmates were frequently turned away when accessing health facilities outside the prison based on the sole judgment of non-medical oficers and most ofen challenges such as the lack of transportation and/or security fears on the part of prison oficers, led to many injustices.

The groups called on the Zambian government and its partners to make immediate improvements in prison conditions and medical care, and the criminal justice system to respect the rights of prisoners and to protect public health. The groups released a report, which outlined their demands and used the media to draw attention to the issue. 

Through the national advocacy eforts by partners, led by PRISSCA who have been working with government stakeholders, various reforms have been seen since the release of the report. The advocacy, both policy and community advocacy has led to prisoners being treated better and being able to access HIV and TB medicines. The issue of ‘congestion’ has been addressed by the Correctional Services in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance. These two departments have increased the prisons’ budget in order to build more prisons. The advocacy is ongoing and pressure continues to be placed in the government of Zambia to continue these reforms

Close the Gap: TB and Human Rights| A activist guide for Southern and East Africa