Govt fails mental health sufferers

HARARE - The Unity Government has failed dismally to address the problem of the soaring number of people suffering from mental illnesses, according to the Director of the Zimbabwe National Association for Mental Health, Ignatious Murambidzi.

He said the government of Zimbabwe had failed to put in place mental health schemes. People who suffer from mental health problems are often out of employment and the provision of free medication has been suspended since last year, said Murambidzi.

There are over 120 000 people who suffer from serious or persistent mental health problems that require medication on a daily basis, but this is not often available. The country has fewer than five psychiatrists with only two serving Harare in the public hospitals. The situation is worse in outlying areas as drugs are not readily available at district hospitals. Patients have to meet the costs and in a month one needs at least US$20 and the majority of mentally ill people do not have the money, said Murambidzi.

One in every four Zimbabweans suffers from mental illnesses. Serious cases of schizophrenia are also common and societal stereotypes only further alienate people who are mentally ill. The majority end up wandering the streets as there are no special homes to cater for them.

The government should establish an effective public administration for people with such illnesses so that there can be social nets where the sick can go. As an organization we have a rehabilitation centre in Ruwa which has only six patients because of financial constraints, said Murambidzi.

Post published in: Analysis

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