Speech delivered by CIDRZ CEO Dr Charles Holmes at the Official Launch of the Zambia Prisons Health Systems Strengthening (ZaPHSS) Framework and signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of the Republic of Zambia – 12th May 2015
Permanent Secretary Ministry of Home Affairs, Dr Chileshe Mulenga
Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health, Dr Davy Chikamata
Permanent Secretary Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health, Professor Elywn Chomba
Ambassador and Head of the European Union Delegation to Zambia Mr Gilles Hervio
Commissioner of Prisons, Mr Percy Chato
Representatives of various government departments present
Chief of Party SHARe II Project, Dr Muka Chikuba McLeod
Country Co-ordinator United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Mrs Sharon Nyambe-Lesa
Representatives of various NGOs present
Members of the Press
May I simply say “All protocols observed”
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of CIDRZ – and indeed on my own behalf, I am so delighted to be part of this landmark occasion where the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia is signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of the Republic of Zambia through the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Community Development Mother and Child Health to cement our agreement of work to strengthen Zambian prisons health systems. The signing of the MOU today does not represent the beginning of a partnership between the Zambian NGO, CIDRZ, and the Government of the Republic of Zambia. Instead, it represents an important milestone that confirms CIDRZ’s commitment to continue collaborative work with government and other key stakeholders to sustain the implementation of the health systems strengthening task in the Zambian Prisons.
Since its inception in 2001, and its move to become an independent Zambian organization in 2011, CIDRZ has implemented multiple projects in partnership with the government. Four of these have been in prisons settings, and at present we have three more prisons-related projects submitted to various funders for future consideration. Over the last five years, approximately US 5 million dollars have been directed to Prisons-related research and programming.
The first CIDRZ Prisons-related program was supported by the World Health Organisation. More than 8000 inmates were screened for both TB and HIV in less than 12 months. Importantly through this initiative we learned that the rate of TB infection was 10 times higher – and the rate of HIV infection was 2 times higher – than the national averages. Given the imperative to control the TB epidemic in Zambian prisons fuelled by the HIV epidemic, we initiated a project in ten prisons along the line of rail using a novel method for TB diagnosis by the Gene Xpert machine. This project was sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and was in partnership with TB CARE through FHI 360 and was under the leadership of the MOH and MCDMCH.
However, we learned that conducting discrete projects each with a limited funding period was not sufficient to make sustained change. To deliver high-quality healthcare services requires a strong, sustainable health system. Therefore, under the sponsorship of the European Union-funded Zambia Prisons Health Systems Strengthening Program, CIDRZ has an overall goal to work with the government to “develop and capacitate a prison health system that will plan, manage and implement improved health services in Zambian Prison facilities.” To achieve this, a three-pronged approach was adopted:
- To strengthen the decision-making framework and management structure of prison health services in Zambia
- To develop the capacity of the Prison Health Directorate to assess, plan and implement health services in prison facilities
- To develop the capacity of facility-based Prison Health Committees to plan and implement sustainable prison health services
To date, CIDRZ through the EU-supported ZaPHSS project and in collaboration with key partners such as the Zambia Prisons Service, the SHARe II project, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, has produced the Zambian Prisons Health Systems Strengthening Framework being launched today. This Framework will be a yardstick for the health systems strengthening work in the Zambian prisons and this Framework will be operationalised by the Memorandum of Understanding being signed today.
Please allow me to mention some of the accomplishments that the ZaPHSS project has realized in collaboration with its partners:
- Trained key members of the Zambia Prisons Service Command and the entire Health Directorate in Planning and budgeting, Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation, and Media Relations
- Trained 11 Prisons Health Committees, comprised of 45 Officers and 120 Inmates, in Health Needs Assessment, Entry Screening for TB and HIV, Peer Education, and Monitoring & Evaluation
- Conducted a multi-phase research study in prisons; Understanding Zambian Prison Health: Inmate Health and Access to Health Care. This study was seeking to understand factors influencing health and health seeking behaviour in Zambian Prisons.
But the task in the Prisons-setting is not completed. We are currently working with the Government of Zambia in only 11 out of a total of 86 prisons. Therefore there is still an urgent need to expand the Prisons programs work and to do this we will require generous donors such as the EU, CDC, USAID, PEPFAR and others to continue to support and to even to expand their support – in addition to the Government of the Republic of Zambia’s commitment to prioritize Prisons health. The need for continued investment towards improvement of prisons health cannot be over emphasised. CIDRZ remains committed to supplementing government’s efforts in providing health services in Zambian prisons and the general community through various projects supported by various partners.
In conclusion ladies and gentlemen, allow me to extend my heartfelt appreciation to the European Union through His Excellency the Head of Delegation and Representative of the EU to COMESA, Ambassador Gilles Hervio for funding this great initiative. May I also sincerely thank the Government of the Republic of Zambia through the Permanent Secretaries present here for the cordial working relationship accorded to us over the many years of CIDRZ’s operations in Zambia.
Dr Chileshe Mulenga, PS Ministry of Home Affairs thank you so much for visiting CIDRZ on Friday afternoon. You helped our teams realize the importance of their efforts, and our shared vision for the work ahead. I thank you.
Dr Charles Holmes, Director and CEO