Yesterday was Prisoner’s Day in Zambia. During this day, prisons are visited by various organisations, and prisoners have an opportunity to be counselled and tested for HIV.
This year the District AIDS Task Force (DATF) of Choma had planned to commemorate this day since this has never been done in Choma before. We first heard of the day in Kabwe central province of Zambia where it is commemorated every year (Kabwe town hosts the largest maximum security prison called Mukobeko).
DATF had organised stakeholders to contribute to the success to this day. We had planned to visit the local prison in Choma, carry out testing and counselling and also have a meal with the inmates.
Beforehand we visited the prison to identify some of the prisoners’ needs and we found out that, due to lack of razorblades, one blade would be used by more than one person. Their greatest need was for barber machines as sharing the same sharp instrument carries a high risk of spreading HIV.
But during one of our planning meetings, which was attended by the Chaplain of the prison, we were disappointed to be told that the prison authorities were not aware of such a day. We then had to abandon the commemoration and asked the Chaplin and the authorities to liaise with other prisons so that we can also have it next year.
My word of advice to the authorities is to please gazette all important days such as this one so that we all help in making Zambia an HIV free nation.