Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and HIV in prisons

Prisoners are a high-risk group when it comes to HIV and other communicable diseases. Nonetheless, little attention has been paid so far to address the need for HIV and AIDS and other health services in prisons. The project will improve HIV and health services for prisoners, including young women and men in seven countries of Southern Africa. At regional level, it will address policy issues that are adversely affecting the prison conditions and the rights of prisoners in the context of health and nutrition.

Land/Region Thema Periode Budget
Südafrikanische Entwicklungsgemeinschaft (SADC)
Sexuell übertragbare Krankheiten inkl. HIV/AIDS
Reproduktive Gesundheit & Rechte
01.10.2018 - 31.07.2024
CHF 9'267'000

East and Southern Africa are regions characterized by the highest concentration of the HIV epidemic. While only 6% of the global population is found in these sub-regions, they account for 52% of all people living with HIV, and close to half the estimated 2.3 million who became infected with HIV in 2012. Nine countries with the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence in the world are in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region. HIV and AIDS remains one of the greatest challenges facing SADC and affects almost every facet of society in the member states. Prisoners are a high-risk group when it comes to HIV and other communicable diseases. Evidence worldwide shows that HIV prevalence rates among the prison populations are six to fifty times higher than that of general adult national averages (UNODC 2012). People in prisons are often from backgrounds involving risky behaviors before entering prisons and are also exposed to higher risks while in prisons.  Nonetheless little attention has been paid so far to address the need for HIV and AIDS and other health services in prisons in Southern Africa and prisoners are the most neglected among key populations affected by HIV/AIDS. One reason for this is an attitude within societies and governments which does not value human rights for prisoners. According to a 2014 report of the International Centre for Prison Studies (ICPS), 15 SADC countries accounted for 335,935 of the total number of the 700,000 incarcerated people in Sub Saharan Africa, among them many young men. Poverty, early orphanage due to loss of HIV infected parents, broken homes, lack of education and employment, migration, drug and substance abuse, violence and exploitation are among the triggering factors leading to their imprisonment. The number of female inmates is much lower than males, but they are very much exposed to several risks. The seven countries targeted by this programme account for 105,487 (2, 6% female) of the regional prison population. Although the overall sizes of the prison populations might be small, they were estimated to account for 33% (Kenya) and 26% (South Africa) of new HIV infection (UNICEF 2013).

Prison conditions in the region are characterised by overcrowding, violence, poor HIV prevention practices and health care including lack of respect of the Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) of prisoners, poor food and nutrition and poor infrastructural facilities. SADC has acknowledged the challenges of HIV and AIDS and other communicable diseases in prisons by the endorsement of the Minimum Standards for HIV and AIDS, TB, Hepatitis B and C, and Sexually Transmitted Infections Prevention, Treatment, Care and Support in Prisons in the SADC Region in 2012. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the African HIV in Prisons Partnership Network (AHPPN) and other NGOs are intervening both at policy and service delivery level in prisons in different member states. However, the coverage to address the various gaps remains very limited. SADC member states lack the resources and capacities to implement the SADC Minimum Standards.

This project targeting seven countries (Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe) during phase 1 and including Lesotho, Mozambique and Tanzania in the second phase) will adopt a regional approach which allows to better address the many sensitive issues and practices around HIV/AIDS and other health issues on neutral platforms. The regional approach is complemented with a national and bottom-up approach within countries to address the manifold needs in prisons and to increase coverage of health services in prisons. The project focuses on 1) policy advocacy at regional and national level 2) capacity strengthening of government departments and civil society organisations and 3) provision of services including some infrastructure and nutrition to improve the overall health situation in prisons. This project is in line with 1) SDC’s health policy priority to reduce the burden of communicable diseases and 2) the Regional Program Southern Africa’s support to HIV and AIDS prevention, care and support among young women and men focusing on one of the most vulnerable among the key populations. The project will be implemented by VSO RHAISA and UNODC.

Verantwortliche Direktion/Bundesamt DEZA
Kreditbereich Entwicklungszusammenarbeit
Projektpartner Vertragspartner
Internationale oder ausländische Nichtregierungsorganisation
  • Andere internationale oder ausländische NGO Norden

Mehrere lokale Partner

Estimated operational start of intervention

(Main Credit Phase 1):

August 2015

Budget Laufende Phase Schweizer Beitrag CHF   9'267'000 Bereits ausgegebenes Schweizer Budget CHF   0
Projektphasen Phase 99 01.10.2018 - 31.07.2024   (Laufende Phase) Phase 1 01.08.2015 - 30.09.2018   (Completed)