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Int J Prison Health ; ahead-of-print(ahead-of-print)2022 02 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2317223


PURPOSE: Prisons in Africa face unprecedented challenges during Coronavirus disease 2019 (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. The purpose of the study was to assess preparedness, prevention and control of COVID-19 in selected prisons in Zimbabwe. DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH: A multi-method situation assessment of COVID-19 preparedness was conducted across three Zimbabwean prisons. The World Health Organization 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 policymakers, prison health directorate, frontline health-care professionals, officers in charge and non-governmental organizations (n = 26); focus group discussions with correctional officers (n = 18); and male/female prisoners (n = 36). Data was triangulated and analyzed 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 FINDINGS: Outdated infrastructure, severe congestion, interrupted water supply and inadequate hygiene and sanitation were conducive to ill-health and spread of disease.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 health care 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/VALUE: 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.

COVID-19 , Prisoners , COVID-19 Testing , Female , Humans , Male , Physical Distancing , Prisons , SARS-CoV-2 , Sleep