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Nigeria Prisons scales up surveillance

…Records zero COVID-19 case since outbreak – CG

By Palma Ileye

Nigeria Correctional Service, NCoS, stated that it has again scaled up its environmental and health surveillance systems, as part of its mandate to provide good health services for the wellbeing, protection and reformation of inmates.

Declaring open the 2022 Service-wide training of frontline health and medical officers organized in conjunction with the International Committee of the Red Cross ICRC in Abuja, Controller General of Corrections, CGC Haliru Nababa explained how the Service was able to keep at bay the COVID-19 pandemic which reared its head in Nigeria in February 2020.

Nababa said that globally there has been erroneous impression on African penitentiary health delivery system noting that the NCoS has put on global record a historic health service tribute that herald the defeat of dreaded diseases such as the HIV/AIDS, Ebola Virus, Lassa Fever, cholera, COVID-19 pandemic, etc in Correctional centres.

“For the umpteenth time, I am glad to announce that there is no single case of COVID-19 recorded in custodial centres in Nigeria right from when it was officially declared a pandemic till date!

“Globally there is erroneous impression on African penitentiary health delivery system. The NCoS has put on global record a historic health service tribute that herald the defeat of dreaded diseases such as the HIV/AIDS, Ebola Virus, Lassa Fever, cholera, COVID-19 pandemic, etc in Correctional centres.

“This feat underscores the rich culture of health practices within the Nigerian Correctional Service to the credit of the Federal Government of Nigeria. Indeed, such achievements does not come by accident. First of all, Professional Correctional Management with focus on inmates protection play vital role.

“Secondly, a broad based synergy of Correctional Service health staff and the entire health emergency preparedness response mechanism of Nigeria contributes richly to this globally celebrated health delivery status.
Furthermore, the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari, especially, plays important role in seeing to the seemingly wonderful health performances of the NCoS,” he said.

Represented by the Controller of Corrections in charge of Water and Sewage at the National Headquarters, Mr RY Jatau added that the problem of drug supply was being tackled through special fund allocation for monthly pharmaceutical procurements.

According to him, the drug compounding centre at the Medium Security Custodial Centre MSCC in Kuje is another strategic Government investment towards ensuring timely provision of quality drugs for inmates.

“Better days lies ahead as the Service embraces the Public-Private-Partnership for production of drugs to meet the demand of the increasing inmates’ population.

“Worth mentioning is the hygiene promotion programme instituted at diverse Correctional Centres. The production of hygiene materials at Maximum Security Custodial Centre Kirikiri was initiated by ICRC but currently being sustained by Water and Sewage Unit. The products assessed fit by the Health Directorate, are approved by CGC for Pharmaceutical unit to procure relevant items for redistribution to inmates nationwide.

“In the same vein, I have approved the production of quality table water in Custodial Centres for inmates use and rehabilitation programming. Hair hygiene and general sanitation is also on the saddle of strategic plan for the Service towards achieving health for all inmates. Health service in NCoS is gender sensitive across all correctional commands as ICRC can confirm.

“As a policy, the evacuation of fecal matter, using trucks or buckets is completely being phased out. Biogas and Anaerobic Baffle Reactors, ABR, were now the preferred instead of waste water treatment method for improved environmental health in Correctional Centres. The construction of Biogas facilities and standard gas operated kitchen have gained traction at Maximum Security Custodial Centre Kirikiri, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Kaduna, Maiduguri, Janguza, Karshi, MSCC Lafia and Gombe.

“Biogas has also made tremendous impact in the systemic cost reduction of sewage treatment as well as mitigation on spread of waterborne and contact diseases. Correctional Centres are now friendly environments to our teaming visitors and host communities, where biogas is constructed. Meanwhile, it is an open secret that one of the modern Correctional Centres in Africa are being constructed at Janguza (Kano), Ode (Rivers) and Karshi (Abuja) in a bid to decongest Custodian Centres for healthy habitat.

“At this juncture, I wish to salute the contribution of the ICRC in building a biogas structure at MSCC Ikoyi to solve the problem of sewage hemorrhage and health risk at that centre. The NCoS plans to advance the utility of the biogas system up to the production of fertilizers from the rich effluent discharged thereof. These deliberate measures are emplaced to intercept perennial health threats within Correctional Centres,” he stated.

In his opening remarks, Deputy Protection Coordinator of ICRC, Roger Frijelis said the International Committee of the Red Cross was an impartial, neutral and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of armed conflicts and other situations of violence.

He said the aim of the ICRC is always to check the conditions of inmates and offer possible assistance where resources can accommodate.

According to him, the partnership of ICRC with the Nigerian Correctional Service, NCoS, on the ocassion of frontline health officers training is to implement health needs of inmates.

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