Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Prisoners still not getting promised ARVs

The government has still not yet kept the promise of making ARV treatment available to foreign prisoners, a pledge it made more than five months ago.

This promise was made by Defence and Security Minister, Ramadeluka Seretse, in Parliament, when answering a question on whether his Ministry, which is responsible for prisons, was not considering providing ARV treatment to prisoners.

Persistent efforts to get Seretse to say when they will act on this promise were futile as he was continuously said to be attending meetings.

A source in the Department of Prisons and Rehabilitation, who works closely with prisoners, says that the last time he heard about that was when they read about Seretse answering such a question in Parliament and that nothing ever happened afterwards and that there are no indications that something of that nature is going to happen soon.

The source said that there is dire need for such intervention by the government as some foreign prisoners are in desperate need of specialized treatment.

A few lucky ones of such prisoners are reportedly being provided for by Non Governmental Organisations, such as churches, whilst the majority of them have neither access nor means to such medication.

The number of foreign prisoners in need of treatment is not known but the total of foreign prisoners in the country is estimated at close to 1000.

When the announcement was first made in Parliament, it was welcomed by the Acting Director of the Botswana Network on Ethics Law and HIV/AIDS, Uyapo Ndadi, who expressed hope that the government would act swiftly on its promise to provide ARVs to foreign prisoners in the country, adding that the government had already delayed in providing such prisoners with ARVs and that any further delay would not be appropriate.

”This issue is very serious and needs urgent attention and my hope is that it will receive the urgent attention it requires from the government,” he had stressed then.

Ndadi also said that he hoped the government would move away from its usual way of doing things by promising that things were in the pipeline then doing nothing to address the matter for years.
”I just hope that the government will this time around move away from making promises that she will act on a matter then going away for years without acting as she has done in the past,” he stressed.

The longer the government delays in this, he said, the longer the citizens of this country and Department of Prisons and Rehabilitation would be exposed to the deadly disease as they reside together, some of them with opportunistic disease such as TB, which are high contagious.


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