Dr Henry Madzorera, Minister of Health and Child Welfare, said public and private hospitals across the region had recorded an increase in mental health incidents.
Gordon Chavunduka, president of the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association, told The Zimbabwean there were more and more people consulting traditional doctors about mental health disorders. He attributed it to economic pressures, mainly the scarcity of forex and rising joblessness.
"Every day there are new people displaying clear signs of mental disorders. Definitely the figures are rising," he said. "While some believe it’s evil spirits, most of them are from poor backgrounds and complain of stress and depression, perhaps owing to economic hardships."
The rise comes at a time public mental hospitals lack the facilities to handle the caseload. At Ingutsheni Central Hospital, Zimbabwe’s national referral centre for psychiatric patients, the lack of food, clothes and supplies remains a problem. Mental hospitals also receive limited support from donors, Madzorera said.
"Aid organizations, both international and local, often work on HIV/AIDS, but it is rare to see organizations who are interested in helping the mentally challenged members of our communities who are suffering across the country," he said.
Elizabeth Matare, director of the Zimbabwe National Association for Mental Health, said Zimbabwe had a mental health policy adopted in 2004 which prescribes increased budgetary allocations for the sector. She lamented the fact that the policy was gathering dust somewhere, largely unimplemented.
"The policy has largely remained a statement of intention on the part of the ministry of health. We would like to see the policy put into action – Zimbabwe has a long history of coming up with acts and working documents that are never implemented," she said.Post published in: News