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“We sleep 10cm apart so there is no social distancing”: COVID-19 preparedness in a Zimbabwean prison complex.

Mlhanga-Gunda, R, Rusakaniko, S, Chinyuku, A, Pswarayi, V, Robinson, C, Kewley, S and Van Hout, MC (2022) “We sleep 10cm apart so there is no social distancing”: COVID-19 preparedness in a Zimbabwean prison complex. International Journal of Prisoner Health. ISSN 1744-9200

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Purpose: Prisons in Africa face unprecedented challenges during COVID-19. In July 2020, the first prison system case of COVID-19 was notified in Zimbabwe. Subsequently, the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services released their COVID-19 operational plan.
Design/methodology/approach: A multi-method situation assessment of COVID-19 preparedness was conducted across three Zimbabwean prisons. The WHO Checklist to evaluate preparedness, prevention and control of COVID-19 in prisons was administered to frontline health managers. Information garnered was further explored during site observation and in multi-stakeholder key informant interviews with policy makers, prison health directorate, frontline health care professionals, officers in charge and non-governmental organisations (n = 26); focus group discussions with correctional officers (n = 18) and male/female prisoners (n = 36). Data was triangulated and analysed using content thematic analysis.
Findings: Outdated infrastructure, severe congestion, interrupted water supply and inadequate hygiene and sanitation were conducive to ill health and spread of disease. Health professionals had been well trained regarding COVID-19 disease control measures. COVID-19 awareness among prisoners was generally adequate. There was no routine COVID-19 testing in place, beyond thermo scanning. Access to healthcare was good, but standards were hindered by inadequate medicines and personnel protective equipment supply. Isolation measures were compromised by accommodation capacity issues. Flow of prison entries constituted a transmission risk. Social distancing was impossible during meals and at night.
Originality: This unique situation assessment of Zimbabwean prisons’ preparedness and approach to tackling COVID-19 acknowledges state and prison efforts to protect prisoners and staff, despite infrastructural constraints and inadequate resourcing from government.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This author accepted manuscript is deposited under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC) licence. This means that anyone may distribute, adapt, and build upon the work for non-commercial purposes, subject to full attribution. If you wish to use this manuscript for commercial purposes, please contact permissions@emerald.com
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1117 Public Health and Health Services, 1602 Criminology, 1605 Policy and Administration
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology > HV8301 Penology. Prisons. Corrections
Divisions: Psychology (from Sep 2019)
Public Health Institute
Publisher: Emerald
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2022 10:57
Last Modified: 10 Feb 2022 11:00
DOI or ID number: 10.1108/IJPH-10-2021-0101
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/15981
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