4 September 2017
LESOTHO Health Minister, Honourable Nyapane Kaya said his country valued access to quality health care services in correctional services noting that the distribution of condoms in prisons was key in the fight against HIV.
In an interview at the just ended 67th World Health Organisation regional committee for Africa which was held in Victoria Falls, Minister Kaya said his country had an interest in the area of correctional services arguing that homosexuality and rape occurred in prisons hence the need to provide HIV-related prevention, information, education, voluntary testing and counselling services among other health care services.
“Homosexuality is happening prisons and this has ignited our interest in ensuring that quality health care services are provided in correctional services so that they are not left out.
“We might even argue that correctional services are one sector that we have more interest in so generally all other services expected for any citizen are being offered.
“We call them correctional services; we have an interest in that area. The services they receive are never isolated, they are being tested, counselling, given ARVs, and all other health care services,” he said.
Minister Kaya noted that it was never easy starting to introduce condoms in prisons arguing that the idea of condom distribution among inmates was not to promote homosexuality but just a matter of accepting that this is happening hence provide preventive methods.
“The idea to distribute condoms in prisons is not to promote homosexuality but it is just accepting reality.
“One of the lessons is that it has not been easy offering such services in correctional services, it is still not easy. Whether we like it or not we know that things such as rape, man having sex with man is happening so the decision to distribute condoms,” he said.
He urged Zimbabwe and other countries to consider the issue of distribution of condoms in prisons noting that this could help in the fight against HIV.
“Zimbabwe and other countries should consider provide quality health care for in mates so that they are not isolated this include giving them preventive services. It is a sad reality that there is rape, homosexuality in prisons and while we do not want to promote this, if nothing is done, it can fuel HIV incidences.”
Lesotho, which is one of the countries hardest hit by HIV has a prevalence rate of 22, 7 percent and a Policy Framework that gives prisoners to access condoms.
Back in Zimbabwe, the condom in prisons debate has been on going with the Health and Child Care Minister, Dr David Parirenyatwa on record for calling for urgent action in the face of a high HIV prevalence rate in the country’s prisons currently at 27 percent.
Some legislators have over the years been pushing for the condom distribution policy in prisons noting that the country might not end AIDS by 2030 and could only ignore the debate on condom distribution at its own peril in the wake of such a HIV prevalence rate.
The HIV prevalence in prisons stands at 27 percent, almost two times higher than the national prevalence of 14 percent.
According to United Nations AIDS Programme (UNAIDS), Zimbabwe has one of the world’s highest HIV prevalence rates at 14 percent with some 1,2 million locals living with HIV.
However, the country’s prison services say HIV prevalence among inmates now stands at 27 percent and same sex intercourse could be spiking the infections.