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The CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (CARICOM IMPACS) with the support of the UKAID has donated medical and sanitation supplies and other related COVID-19 materials to the Guyana Prison Services, to help minimise the risk of infection and transmission of COVID-19 in prisons.
This gesture was in response to the request from Guyana Prison Authorities to get support for national COVID-19 measures to minimize and control the risk of the contagion inside their prisons.
The donation included medical and sanitation supplies and other COVID-19 related supplies. The donation provided is in accordance with guidelines issued by the WHO for the prevention and control of the pandemic in prisons.
Minister of Home Affairs, the Hon. Robeson Benn who received the supplies at the Ogle International Airport expressed “profound gratitude and appreciation to CARICOM IMPACS, the British High Commission and the Regional Security System (RSS) from the government and people of Guyana for the donation received which will support COVID-19 preventative and mitigating measures in the prison.”
Also witnessing the handover of the supplies were Director of Her Majesty’s Prison, Guyana, Gladwin Samuels; Deputy British High Commissioner, Ray Davidson; and Head of Guyana Prison Service Medical department, Dr. Kwasi St. Clair.
Executive Director (Ag), CARICOM IMPACS, Lt. Col. Michael Jones, who delivered the air shipment of the COVID-19 related supplies, said he was “particularly happy to partner with the UKAID to address the most immediate requirements of the Guyana Prison Service in order to mitigate against COVID-19 within the prisons environment in Guyana.”
The donation of these supplies will encourage and assist with the accelerated adoption of the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines for prisons and other places of detention, as well as help mitigate the spread of the pandemic, and reinforce security within Guyana prisons.
Director Samuel noted that the supplies “will strengthen the capacity of the Guyana Prison Service to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the prison walls.”
CARICOM IMPACS has successfully donated supplies to the correction and prison services in twelve (12) other CARICOM Member States – Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. This assistance package is funded by the UK government to support the prevention and mitigation of COVID-19 in CARICOM Prisons.
The RSS is a key partner in this collaborative initiative by providing airlift and logistical support for the distribution of supplies to some CARICOM Member States. The French Forces in the Caribbean also provided Airlift to the Bahamas and Belize.
Prisons are generally considered to be amplifiers in the spread of infectious diseases and pose a great challenge for authorities working to prevent and contain COVID-19. The WHO identifies people in prisons as more vulnerable to COVID-19 than the general population because of the confined conditions in which they live, and proximity with one another – conditions that facilitate transmission of diseases. A sudden eruption of COVID-19 in prisons would put intense pressure on the public health care system in Guyana.
As part of the CARICOM coordinated response to COVID-19, CARICOM IMPACS is contributing to prevent and mitigate the spread of the pandemic in prisons, law enforcement and other security sectors in CARICOM Member States.
In addition to the items provided to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 in prisons, CARICOM IMPACS collaborated with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to provide virtual training sessions to front-line officers on measures to protect themselves in the line of duty. CARICOM IMPACS also partnered with the University of West Indies COVID-19 Task Force with virtual training on stress management for Law Enforcement Officers. These effort strengthened the capacity of prison staff to better manage their operations in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and also complements the efforts by CARICOM IMPACS, the UKAID and the RSS to provide medical and sanitation supplies and other related COVID-19 supplies to CARICOM Member States.