Prisons in frantic bid to avert typhoid outbreak
By Farayi Machamire
The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) has said it is working around the clock to avert a typhoid outbreak in the country’s overcrowded prisons.
This comes as a typhoid outbreak has hit the high density suburb of Mbare and claimed two lives.
ZPCS said isolation wards have been set up to quarantine inmates suspected of contracting the highly communicable disease.
Its acting public relations officer, Priscilla Mthembo, yesterday moved to quash claims that typhoid has spread to the country’s prisons, saying no case has been recorded yet.
This comes as an ex-convict who was released last week after serving seven years behind bars claimed that the deadly disease was wreaking havoc at Harare Central Prison.
Robson Jack said he was “lucky” to be alive as prisoners were consuming contaminated water and food.
“It is not true that we have recorded typhoid cases or deaths related to typhoid in our prisons,” Mthembo said, before admitting reports of overcrowded cells.
Harare Central Prison is home to 1 910 prisoners against a holding capacity of 1 300.
“Most of our maximum and remand prisons are overcrowded due to the calibre of inmates, offences and sentences which are currently being served by these inmates.”
She, however, assured the public that ZPCS is doing everything in its capacity to ensure that a typhoid outbreak is averted.
“We have put in place various measures to ensure we handle imminent outbreak of typhoid,” Mthembo said.
“Our major concentration is on preventive measures through ensuring inmates and officers have access to clean, safe and secure drinking water and proper management of waste.
“Inmates’ relatives are also encouraged to limit food quantities brought into prison for their loved ones behind bars; particularly we urge them to bring in tinned, dry foods and peelable fruits.
“Our health team is also constantly conducting health surveillance to identify any likely cases of typhoid.
“We are also working closely with other health authorities in terms of training and provision of test kits. Our rapid response team has also set aside isolation wards to quarantine and manage any cases or suspected typhoid cases.” Daily News