Thursday, 31 July 2014

Improving the Welfare of Prisoners is My Interest: Says a VHT Member.

My name is Opio John.  I am a Prisons Officer at Kwania Prison. I was trained as member of a Village Health Team (VHT) by the African Prisons Project. As a member of the VHT at the prison, my role includes identification of diseases (by making regular visits to the inmates and prison community) and referrals for severe cases to bigger health facilities for better medical attention. I also conduct awareness creation meetings with the inmates on their rights to health, good living environment and welfare. 

As a member of a VHT, i am proud to mention that my work has caused a lot of change to the inmates and the prison community at large; this is particularly for inmates living with HIV/ AIDS and Tuberculosis (TB). I have been able to encourage most sick inmates to start medication, and also helped them to access the necessary drugs from the medical centre. Through regular counselling and sensitization of the inmates on positive living, sanitation and hygiene issues, the hope of most inmates has been restored and many are now practicing/spearheading good hygiene and also living positively.

Working with the inmates has been much easier than working with the community. This is because inmates are already an organized/mobilized community which is always willing to listen and receive programmes that are aimed at improving their welfare.
I am grateful to IDF for partnering with APP and to APP for choosing Kwania prison among others as a beneficiary in their project Promotion of the rights of access to justice and healthcare of prisoners in Oyam and Apac districts”. Apart from empowering me as a VHT and human rights advocate, the project has helped in transforming the lives of and restoring hope to inmates. 

If such initiatives are sustained and rolled out i am certain the living conditions and welfare of most inmates will be improved leading to promotion and observance of prisoner rights in Uganda.