UNODC, National AIDS and STDs Control Programme and the Nigerian Correctional Service Collaborate on National Care and Referral Model for HIV and Other Health Conditions In Custodial Centres

Abuja, 12 April 2021­-With the 2021 World Health Day being marked globally under the theme “Together for a fairer, healthier world”, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Nigeria supported a three-day stakeholders’ workshop, from 7 to 9 April 2021, to review and finalise the “National Care and Referral Model for HIV and other Health Conditions in Custodial Centres in Nigeria”. The purpose of the document is to tackle the long-term health inequalities among vulnerable people living in custodial centres the country.

People in custodial centres in Nigeria face several unmet needs for their health demands including medical care for HIV, tuberculosis, skin diseases, pregnancy care and so on. Referral services for health care and continuity of services is also a challenge. According to the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (also known as the Nelson Mandela rules), prisoners should enjoy the same standards of health care that are available in the community, and should have access to necessary health-care services free of charge without discrimination on the grounds of their legal status.

In 2018, UNODC in partnership with UNAIDS, USAID and Heartland Alliance International (HAI), supported the National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA), the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS), and the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) in the conduct of a situational assessment of HIV/AIDS in prisons. The findings reflected a similar situation as found in many other countries, meaning that prevalence of HIV/AIDS among persons in custodial centres was higher than in the general population. In Nigeria, the prevalence in prison was 2.8%, which is more than twice as high compared to the general population.

The National Care and Referral Model is a step towards achieving improved HIV prevention and care for people living with HIV and related health conditions among people in custodial centres. The document aims to provide guidance towards improved health care services for HIV, TB, Hepatitis B&C, STIs, Substance Use Disorders, and other health conditions for people in incarceration during life in custody and upon release to the community. This would be achieved through collaboration among Federal Ministry of Health, Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) with national stakeholders and international partners.

UNODC commends the Government of Nigeria for taking this important step to ensure that people in correctional facilities benefit from national prevention and treatment services for HIV and related conditions in the spirit of “leaving no one behind”.