HEALTH Minister Chitalu Chilufya has called on the Judiciary and the Zambia Correctional Service in Zambia to seek ways of decongesting correctional facilities
Dr Chilufya said congestion was a threat to public health saying the problem could fuel disease outbreaks in prisons if it was left unchecked.
He said this in Livingstone on Saturday when he inspected the completed Livingstone Central Correctional facility mini hospital.
The mini Hospital was constructed by Mercury lines Construction Company at a cost of K 2 million with financial support from the American Government through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
Dr Chilufya, who was accompanied by Home Affairs minister Stephen Kampyongo, said Government will continue to invest in strong public systems to enhance the health of the Zambian people.
“The investments will entail construction of infrastructure for health with partnerships from cooperating partners through coordinated coherent action amongst stakeholders to ensure that we invest in wellness of our people.
“Congestion is a threat to public health and so working with the Judiciary and the Zambia Correctional service will all ensure that we all decongest our prisons because that is a factor that will fuel disease outbreaks,” Dr Chilufya said.
Dr Chilufya thanked the American Government for supplementing Government efforts in providing health care services to its citizens.
“The American Government through PEPFAR remains a very strong ally to this Government in providing health services to our people. The construction of a mini Hospital under Zambia Correctional Services is a critical investment in the health of our people,” he said.
He disclosed that the facility would be able to provide first level services to inmates, officers and the surrounding communities and also help provide basic health care and curative services and the patient flow systems.
He further said that his ministry would continue to work closely with the Ministry of Home Affairs to ensure that the investment is translated into health services by quickly giving it the basic furniture and equipment so that services are operationalised.
Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo applauded the Zambia Correctional Service for buying into the vision of President Edgar Lungu on promotion of good health through the various institutional services.
“I am impressed with what has been done here and am equally happy with the product. We have agreed tentatively that we should be coming back here after a month to come and officially open this facility so that our inmates, officers and the community can be able to access quality health care just by their door step.
“We are here to implement the directives as given by the Republican President Edgar Lungu who wants to see quality health care brought nearer to the people including those that are incarcerated because they are equally citizens who deserve to be looked after.
And Zambia Correctional Service Commissioner General Percy Chato said Livingstone Central Correctional facility was one of the beneficiary of a project under PEPFAR were the Correctional Service was building mini hospitals across the country.
Mr Chato said the health facility was complete but not equipped with necessary medical equipment needed and was hopeful that equipment would be sourced within the shortest possible time.
“As Zambia Correctional Service we are grateful that through the intervention of Government we recruited some health personnel that will run the health facilities.
“The facilities were done under our health strengthening framework were we intend to build capacity in the provision of health services to our inmates,” he said.