Prison hospitals run out of drugs

HARARE - Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) — battling acute cash shortages and food rations — face a fresh challenge after authorities revealed their hospitals have run out drugs.

The ZPCS, apart from budgetary constraints, are also grappling with overcrowding in its prisons where inmates have shot past the 17 000 holding capacity to house more than 20 000 prisoners.

Officials at Chikurubi Maximum Prison Hospital and Harare Central Prison Hospital told a parliamentary human rights delegation and journalists touring prisons in the
capital that there were facing many challenges trying to curb illnesses, which were attributed mainly to the poor living conditions.

At Harare Central Prisons, which is used as a referral hospital, the matron told the parliamentarians that they were struggling with transporting patients and doing

“We do not have a laboratory here, we send the tests to the Chikurubi Hospital, but imagine if it’s a case of TB (Tuberculosis), and with the problems of overcrowding
and lack of ventilation,” Thandiwe Chaitezvi, said.

“We only got back our ambulance this month since the beginning of the year, and now that we have it, we do not have fuel. We have some ARVs but we do not have some of
them, and by the end of this month we would have run out of antibiotics,” she told the legislators.

“The common diseases we deal with here are tuberculosis, acute respiratory syndrome, colds and malnutrition cases. And with anaemia we do not have resources for blood
transfusions because they are costly.”

So far 11 deaths have been recorded at Harare Central prison since the beginning of the year.

Harare Central Prison holds 1 470 inmates but is overpopulated at is currently holding 1 900 inmates.

Poor nutrition, overcrowding as well as lack of  proper ventilation at the prisons were said to be worsening the inmates’ living conditions.

At Chikurubi, where both inmates and officials were still recovering from recent food riots which claimed the lives of five people, HIV and anaemia were named as the
most prevalent diseases.

“But we have nothing now in the pharmacy here to treat the illnesses,” Jean Mutusvu, Chikurubi Hospital matron said

“We however, encourage those who have relatives outside to buy their relatives medication.”

The Chikurubi Prison Hospital currently has 27 patients who get services from one medical doctor who at one time, according to Mutusvu, bought prisoners food using his own money to supplement their diet.

“Anaemia, is usually as a result of the diet, so at the end of the day, we end up taking from our pockets to help treat the illness,” Mutusvu said.

ZPCS have been battling serious challenges to the extent of failing to provide nutritious food for inmates.

Matters came to a head on March 13, when more than 900 prisoners, including dangerous inmates rioted over food leading to deaths of five people, including a warden.

Justice minister and Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa claimed disgraced jailed rapist End Time Messages Ministries founder — Robert Gumbura — was the mastermind of
the riots which he claimed were designed to allow the escape of dangerous criminals, including the pastor himself.

Gumbura, who is currently serving 40 years for rape and nine others, including notorious armed robber Luckmore Matambanadzo, are being charged with attempt to escape
from lawful custody, incitement in aggravating circumstances in relation to malicious damage to property and incitement to assault or resist a peace officer.

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