By Moses Magadza
KABWE, ZAMBIA – The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has donated laboratory equipment to a clinic at Mukobeko Medium Correctional Facility in the Central Province of Zambia.
UNODC Regional Coordinator for Southern Africa Signe Rotberga officially presented the equipment last week to the Deputy Commissioner General in charge of
Operations within the Zambia Correctional Service, Lloyd Chilundika.
Scores of people who included staff of United Nations agencies working in Zambia and senior officials from the Ministry of Health, witnessed the donation which
took place on the sidelines of commemorations to mark Nelson Mandela Day at Kabwe Maximum Correctional Facility near the clinic.
Officially declared by the United Nations in November 2009, Nelson Mandela International Day has become an annual international day in honour of the late first
President of independent South Africa, who spent 27 years as a political prisoner. Every year on Mandela’s 18 July birthday, people reflect on his commitment
to improving conditions for people in prison and the underprivileged.
The donated equipment includes a hematology analyzer, a centrifuge, an autoclave, an orbiter shaker, and different glassware that include measuring cylinders.
Clinic administrators said the donation would significantly reduce time and costs hitherto associated with transporting inmates to the nearest public health
facility nearly 10 kilometers away.
Mr. Bupe Chewe, one of two Medical Technologists at the clinic, summarized the gratitude and relief felt after the donation.
“Life before this donation was difficult because we depended on other health facilities at Kabwe Central Hospital which is almost 10 kilometers away at a time
when transport is a huge challenge,” Chewe said.
He said managing patients was extremely difficult before UNODC donated the equipment. This was particularly challenging in relation to patients in need of
antenatal care and who typically undergo many tests.
“In some cases, results for tests done on antennal patients would only be sent to us after three weeks,” he noted.
Chilundika thanked UNODC for helping Zambia, through the country’s correctional service, take health closer to people in incarceration. He exhorted Kabwe
Correctional Facility managers to protect the donated equipment from theft and vandalism.
A nurse at the clinic implored UNODC to consider further supporting the facility so that pregnant inmates could give birth there.
The clinic at Mukobeko Medium Correctional Facility serves approximately 3100 inmates. Of these, nearly 100 are female inmates.
Moses Magadza is the Communications Officer at UNODC Regional Office for Southern Africa.