THE Parliamentary Committee on HIV and AIDS Affairs has asked the government to consider easing congestion in prisons by ensuring that remandees are handled at police stations and not in prisons.
The committee chairman, Oscar Mukasa, said during the tabling of the Prime Minister’s Office budget estimates that most prisons were congested by remandees, urging the government to solve the problem.
He said his committee proposes that the police force must be tasked to handle remandees and prisons should take full charge of prisoners.
“The number of remandees in our prisons is bigger than that of prisoners; this is not proper, the committee needs the government and all other stakeholders to do something to address this situation,” he said.
According to Mr Mukasa, the huge congestion in prisons was risky for remandees, prisoners and prison wardens when it comes to airborne diseases like tuberculosis (TB).
“We are asking the government to consider easing congestion in our prisons by making sure the remandees are handled by the police,” he said.
The committee chairman also cautioned on the state of prison cubes, saying they do not allow air ventilation.
“This situation may lead to serious transmission of airborne diseases, we wish to ask the government to resolve this challenge,” he remarked.
Moreover, the committee asked the government to review the prisons’ system of purchasing food saying the department was purchasing food items at high prices.
He said the prison was producing food and selling it at low prices and then buys it again from the supplier at higher prices.
“We have discovered a surprising situation in this business; the department produces food, sells it at low prices and then buys it at higher prices; we are proposing a new system that will benefit both sides,” he said.
On fighting HIV/AIDS, the Tanz ania Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS) has asked the government to allocate 7.6bn/- for implementing its programmes in the 2 02 0/2 1 fiscal year.
The committee chairman explained that out of the requested amount, 4.9bn/- , which is equivalent to 6 4 per cent, is for development projects and the remaining amount is for other charges (OC) paying salaries and other issues.
On the source of funds, the committee asked the government to avoid donor dependency and ensure it funds various programmes independently.
According to Mr Mukasa, the committee has realised that much of the funds for fighting the scourge comes from donors.
He said in 2 019/2 0, the government allocated 1.4bn/- which was equivalent to 2 per cent of all allocated fund; however, the commission received only 2 8 .2 m/- from different stakeholders.
“Depending on donors funds in fighting HIV/AIDS does not guarantee us victory since they sometimes reduce the amount,” he said.
He added that in 2 019/2 0, the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) reduced the support by 2 3 per cent, which was 28 2 .8 bn/- (119m US dollar).
PEPFAR is a United States governmental initiative to address the global HIV/AIDS epidemic and helps to save the lives of those suffering from the disease.
The committee asked the government to support the commission’s budget by 75 per cent and the remaining 25 per cent should be requested from donors.
According to UNAIDS statistics for Tanz ania, in 2 018 , 1.6 million people were living with HIV in the country.
This equates to an estimated HIV prevalence among adults of 4.6 per cent. In the same year, 72 ,000 people were newly infected with HIV, and 2 4,000 people died from an AIDS-related illness.
Despite the numbers, Tanzania has done well to control the HIV epidemic over the last decade.
Scaling up access to antiretroviral treatment (ART) has meant that between 2010 and 2 018 , the number of new infections declined by 13per cent and the number of people dying from an AIDS-related illness has halved.