Nigeria Prisons Records Zero COVID-19 Case Since Outbreak, Says CG

Kuni Tyessi in Abuja

The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) 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 that was organised in conjunction with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Abuja, the Controller General of NCoS, 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; “Globally, there is erroneous impression of African penitentiary health delivery system. The NCoS has put on global record a historic health service tribute that heralded 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!

“This feat underscores the rich culture of health practices within the NCoS to the credit of the Federal Government of Nigeria. Indeed, such achievements do 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 contributed richly to this globally celebrated health delivery status.

“Furthermore, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, especially, played important role in seeing to the seemingly wonderful health performances of the NCoS.”

The CGC, who was represented by the Controller of Corrections in charge of Water and Sewage at the National Headquarters, Mr. R.Y. Jatau, added that the problem of drug supply is being tackled through special fund allocation for monthly pharmaceutical procurements.

He described the drug compounding centre at the Medium Security Custodial Centre (MSCC) in Kuje as another strategic government’s investment towards ensuring timely provision of quality drugs for inmates.  

“Worth mentioning is the hygiene promotion programme instituted at many correctional centres. The production of hygiene materials at Maximum Security Custodial Centre, Kirikiri, was initiated by the ICRC, but is 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 t o 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) are now the preferred in-si-tu wastewater 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.

“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, the Deputy Protection Coordinator of ICRC, Mr. Roger Frijelis, said that the ICRC is an impartial, neutral and independent organisation whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of armed conflicts and other situations of violence.

Frijelis said that 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 NCoS on the occasion of frontline health officers training is to implement health needs of inmates.

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