CIDRZ is supporting the Government of the Republic of Zambia to strengthen systems responsible for planning, coordinating and implementing prison-based health services through the Zambia Prisons Health Systems Strengthening Project (ZaPHSS).
The need for health system strengthening was recognized following a collaborative research study in 2010-2011 between CIDRZ, the Zambia Prisons Service (ZPS), and the Zambian National TB Programme which found rates of TB and HIV infections within prisons to be substantially higher than the Zambian average. The study also demonstrated a trend towards concentration of TB and HIV infection in prisons and potential for transmission of these infections to the general population. Such alarming findings flagged the need for investment in strengthening prison-specific health systems as well as related institutional and criminal justice reform.
A prison is not an isolated environment: infections acquired while in prison may be transmitted to the community through prisoner release, staff, and visitors; thus the health of prison inmates and staff is an important public health priority.
The ZaPHSS project is employing innovative strategies to develop a framework for engagement between key government ministries, developing mechanisms that enable efficient and strategic decision-making and coordinated planning in order deliver quality, targeted healthcare to inmates, staff and surrounding communities. The first round of service strengthening interventions will focus on 11 prison facilities.
Through our work in Zambian prisons, we intend to support the Zambian Prison Service to:
- Strengthen the decision-making framework and management structure for prison health services
- Improve the capacity of the Prison Health Directorate to assess, plan and implement health services in prison facilities
- Develop the capacity of facility-based Prison Health Committees to plan and implement sustainable in-facility prison health services