18 Feburary 2019 - Windhoek, Namibia - UNODC supports countries to promote healthy lives and well-being for all at all ages, as indicated in SDG3 and its target 3.3 on ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. UNODC also assists countries to ensure that people in prisons enjoy the same standards of health care that are available in the community and have access to necessary health care services free of charge without discrimination on the grounds of their legal status, as stated by the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules).
In this context, UNODC provides technical assistance through its regional programme 'Supporting Regional Compliance with HIV, Health and Human Rights Principles for People in Prison Settings of Sub-Saharan Africa' in 10 selected Sub-Saharan African countries including Namibia. This programme, which is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), aims to ensure that prison populations, especially women and adolescents in prison, have access to good quality HIV/AIDS and Sexual and Reproductive Health Services.
In Namibia, the programme implementation is timely , as the Namibian Correctional Service (NCS) is set to open a Female Centre at the Windhoek Correctional Facility in March this year, which will have capacity to host all women admitted to the NCS. This Female Centre will provide programmes for education and training, as well as a child-friendly area for children accompanying their mothers. In addition, there will also be a clinic to respond specifically to the health needs of women living in this facility. UNODC supported the acquisition of furniture and medical equipment for this health care center.
According to Commisioner-General Raphael Tuhafen Hamunyela, the NCS aspires to be Africa's leader in the provision of correctional services that are in line with international standards on the treatment of prisoners, and the support of UNODC has been much appreciated in this regard.
UNODC supported the training of prison officers in Namibia and raised the awareness of people in prisons with regard to HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support. UNODC also provided input to development of the NCS's Health Policy, as well as supported a range of other activities to strengthen the NCS's efforts to provide quality health care to people in prisons.
Continued progress on this front is expected as Commisioner-General Hamunyela emphasizes the NCS's commitment to ensuring that "prisoners have access to the same health services that are available in the community, and treatment and care is continued after release".